Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has emphatically denied suggestions that he wants out of the Emirates Stadium unless manager Arsene Wenger is sacked.
As reported by the Daily Mirror on Tuesday, Spanish outlet Don Balon had made the claims. However, the Germany international took to Twitter to rubbish the report:
Mesut Özil @MesutOzil1088
Have seen the media reports today. Arsène Wenger was a big reason for me joining Arsenal – this hasn’t changed! #Respect #AFC2016-3-22 14:51:01
Ozil has been the Gunners’ standout player this season, providing a creative fulcrum for the team’s attacking play. Already, the midfielder has five goals and a whopping 18 assists in the Premier League this term.
Despite his importance to the team, there have been reports linking the playmaker with a move away from the club. According to Luis F. Rojo of Marca, Ozil’s agent has been in touch with Barcelona about a transfer at the end of the season, with the 27-year-old said to not be too keen on extending his contract with the Gunners, which runs to 2018.
It’d be little surprise if a team like Barca were indeed interested in a player with such sharp cerebral instincts. As Squawka Football note here, the midfielder is one of the most dangerous attacking players in the division:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Most goals and assists in the Premier League this season: R. Mahrez (27) J. Vardy (25) R. Lukaku (24) M. Özil (23) https://t.co/zJdglEq9Yw2016-3-19 20:49:05
Regardless of the transfer talk, it seems unlikely Ozil is unhappy working under a manager such as Wenger.
While the Frenchman does have his flaws, his ability to get the best out of technical and intricate players such as the club’s record signing has never been doubted. After two iffy seasons to begin life in English football, Wenger has facilitated a system to get the best from the German, who is now at the crux of all their attacking forays.
Of course, a player of Ozil’s talent will be keen to challenge for the biggest honours on the continent, and at the moment, Arsenal are not a team who look capable of doing so. However, any ultimatums about a manager who has enriched his game seem out of character and have been confirmed as such by the man himself.
Elsewhere, the Gunners are reportedly ready to part with a whopping €50 million to land Borussia Monchengladbach’s midfield dynamo, Granit Xhaka. That’s according to Bild (h/t Sport Witness), who suggest the 23-year-old’s father has already met with Wenger to discuss a potential move to the club in the summer.
Xhaka, a Swiss international, has been one of the standout midfielders in the Bundesliga this season playing in a lung-busting, box-to-box style. As these statistics show from Squawka Football, he’s definitely a multifaceted footballer:
Squawka Football @Squawka
@marcos96r Granit Xhaka's season by numbers: 85% Pass accuracy 56 Interceptions 21 Take ons 10 Chances created 3 Goals2016-3-15 15:19:48
Arsenal may look as though they’ll finally have to admit defeat in any pursuit of Napoli man Gonzalo Higuain, with reports suggesting the Partenopei are poised to offer him a new deal with the club.
That’s according to La Repubblica (h/t James Gray of the Daily Express), who suggest the Serie A side have readied a two-year extension for the Argentina international. Gray said that Arsenal may go back in for the forward this summer, although Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool are also sniffing around the player.
Here is a look at some of the highlights of a remarkable season from Higuain, who has helped propel Napoli to within touching distance of the Serie A summit:
While some of the goals in the clip are pretty special, the numbers behind this fabulous season for Higuain also make for excellent reading, per beIN Sports’ Matteo Bonetti:
Matteo Bonetti @TheCalcioGuy
Gonzalo Higuain is 6 goals away from breaking the Serie A single season goal record of Nordahl (35) since league went to 20 teams.2016-3-21 12:31:08
The heart of their midfield and the point of their attack are two areas Arsenal will surely seek to address in the summer. They’re key positions in the side that have often let the Gunners down in pursuit of the top honours, with robustness in the middle and ruthlessness up front scarce in recent seasons.
Xhaka and Higuain would certainly be fine solutions, although at this juncture, the former certainly looks a lot more gettable than the latter. Higuain may be in spectacular form, but he’s 28, and it would take a lot of money to prise him away from Naples—money you suspect Wenger would not be willing to part with.