Arsenal reportedly "remain confident" Mesut Ozil will extend his contract with the club, despite mooted interest from Barcelona in the stylish playmaker, interest that apparently has the Premier League club "bemused."
Steve Stammers of the Daily Mirror has reported how Arsenal are not taking the claims of Spanish interest seriously. Stammers claimed an unnamed insider has even gone as far as saying serious talks are not yet underway with Ozil:
Arsenal are bemused by claims that Mesut Ozil wants to leave the club.
Reports in Spain claim that the Germany World Cup winner had rejected the offer of a new contract – and that Barcelona were keen to sign the 27-year-old midfield star.
But an Arsenal insider pointed out that, as yet, there have been no detailed talks between Ozil and the club about a new contract to extend a deal that still has two and half years to run.
And they are confident a new agreement can be reached.
Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph has also stated how the Gunners believe Ozil is content with life in north London: "But Arsenal have not received any indication that Ozil is unhappy at the Emirates and will push ahead with plans to hand him a new deal worth £180,000-a-week."
Law revealed how the Gunners are keen to avoid a "disruptive summer of speculation" involving marquee players Ozil and prolific wide forward Alexis Sanchez. Hence, the reason for trying to extend a deal for the former that is already set to run until 2018.
But speculation has already begun regarding Ozil's immediate future. Spanish publication Marca (h/t Callum Davis of the Daily Telegraph) has suggested Ozil has turned down a new contract offer, due to a supposed belief the Gunners cannot win the UEFA Champions League.
In his Telegraph report, Davis also includes a tweet from Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur—a tweet showing a story from German newspaper Bild, proclaiming Ozil is indeed interested in a move away.
These rumours have emerged on the eve of Arsenal's top-of-the-table Premier League clash with Leicester City and just nine days before the Gunners face Barca in the Champions League.
But what would things look like for Arsenal if Ozil did leave?
If the Gunners were to lose Ozil it would be a tough blow, but hardly a fatal one. The German has been superb this season, tallying 16 assists in the Premier League and netting six goals in all competitions, per WhoScored.com.
He's been Arsenal's player of the season, while key men such as Sanchez and midfielders Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla have all missed time. But manager Arsene Wenger has a squad loaded with playmakers—a group that would present many options for replacing Ozil.
Among those options would be pairing natural holding player Coquelin with a more robust midfielder such as new signing Mohamed Elneny while pushing goal-getter Aaron Ramsey into Ozil's No. 10 role.
Alternatively, Wenger might partner Coquelin with box-to-box bundle of energy Ramsey and put a fit-again Cazorla further forward. The pocket-edition Spaniard is a technical marvel with an eye for a pass.
Jack Wilshere is another accomplished technician who would surely get more opportunities if Ozil were to leave. The England man has endured a lengthy injury nightmare in recent years but still has the creative temperament to realise his considerable potential.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another player who would likely welcome the chance to play centrally more often. His driving pace and fierce shot would make an advanced berth behind the strikers a natural place for the former Southampton man.
Arsenal obviously wouldn't want to lose a player as influential as Ozil. Indeed, Wenger shouldn't indulge any bid less than £10 million-£15 million more than the club-record £42.4 million he paid for the ex-Real Madrid schemer back in 2013.
But if the worse scenario happens, the Gunners boast enough attacking midfield talent to be able to quickly move on, even from a pass-master as capable as Ozil.
Wenger might even use the funds to improve the club's options up front, arguably still a pressing need. In his Telegraph article, Law also identified Borussia Dortmund's prolific striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as one of the "principle targets" Arsenal might consider this summer.
Selling Ozil should only be done in extreme circumstances—for instance if the player really does long for pastures new or if Arsenal receive a high enough bid. If so, Wenger has enough options to still build his team around stylish and intelligent passing in the middle.
Until then, though, the Gunners boss and his team should just enjoy the current purple patch experienced by Ozil and hope it can take the club to a first league title since 2004.