Breaking Down the Mesut Ozil to Manchester United Transfer Rumours
Few players in world football divide opinion quite like Mesut Ozil.
To some, he remains the most unique creative midfielder in the game thanks to an amazing first touch, incredible vision and sensational passing range; to others, he is simply too lazy and inconsistent to still be considered as one of the truly elite players.
A SportBild report (h/t Richard Forrester of The Sun) on Friday about a potential switch to Manchester United was greeted with serious intrigue from his admirers. They believe it would be all that Arsenal deserve for underappreciating the player.
To his critics, though, the idea seemed laughable.
Ozil's contract is winding down at the Emirates Stadium and if he does not pen a new deal, he will be leaving Arsenal on a free transfer at the end of the season.
So could a switch to Old Trafford really be on the cards? I have had a look into the different factors that will determine his next move.
The Future at Arsenal
One thing became immediately clear when looking into this story: United's interest should be taken with a pinch of salt at this stage.
The latest Arsenal exit stories followed on immediately from Arsene Wenger's admission that discussions with Ozil over his contract have "slowed down," per Jack Austin of The Independent.
As it stands, I understand there is no direct line of inquiry over the prospect of the player moving to United and tellingly the line that German outlet SportBild focused most heavily on last week was that contract talks at Arsenal were not moving forward.
One source explained to me how Arsenal had been coming round to the idea of paying him in excess of £300,000 earlier this year, but that is no longer the case.
If Ozil is to stay at Arsenal, he will probably have to accept terms below that level.
"The club want him to stay and had been willing to meet his demands, but at this stage there seems less reason to pay him the type of money he is looking for," the Arsenal insider told me.
"Let's be honest, is there any other big club that would seriously consider him worthy of more than doubling his pay?"
The landscape is changing for Ozil, and he has not become the game-changer in big matches as was expected of him when he arrived.
Fitting in at United
United have been linked with Ozil before. They were one of five clubs linked with signing him from Werder Bremen in 2010, and at the time Wayne Rooney made it clear to Sir Alex Ferguson that he felt they should have pushed to get him.
Fergie told him to mind his own business, and Ozil ended up joining Real Madrid.
But could his Old Trafford arrival still come about eight years later?
In the current system, both Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan would have to be considered most similar in style to the Germany international. It would most likely take one of those two figures to leave the club in order for Ozil to arrive.
Scott Patterson, who publishes popular United blog The Republik of Mancunia, is of the opinion that any issues with Ozil are centred around his attitude.
"Mesut Ozil is undoubtedly a hugely talented player and when he left Real Madrid for Arsenal, there were plenty of jealous United supporters," he said. "But, while he boasted a ridiculous 19 assists in the league a couple of seasons ago, and pulls off brilliant pieces of skill, you have to question his mentality.
"Maybe his knack of bottling it in the big games is indicative of spending several years playing for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, or maybe he is just weak mentally."
The performance levels he has shown, particularly over the past year, are an issue. Luxury players don't work in top-level football anymore, they just cannot be accommodated.
Relationship with Mourinho
It is a fact that Ozil and Mourinho had a fall-out at Real Madrid and for some people that will be enough to rule out the chance of them being reunited. But it's only part of their story; a huge bond still exists between them.
While United may not be actively pursuing Ozil right now, it would be lazy to declare there is no chance of it ever happening.
The bad times were highlighted in the player's autobiography, Gunning For Greatness, and naturally the quotes have been played out in public many times since.
To surmise, Mourinho dug out Ozil in the Real Madrid dressing room and mocked him at half-time in a fixture against Deportivo La Coruna. He accused him of playing half-heartedly. The midfielder reacted angrily and opted for a shower, rather than to play in the second half.
With hindsight, he admitted he was wrong to do so and realised that the manager had been trying to motivate him to prove him wrong on the pitch.
Mourinho provided the foreword for his book and gave the impression the pair remain close. He described him as "my friend." The Portuguese may be the only manager capable of helping 28-year-old Ozil back to the peak of his powers at this stage.
One of the reasons the coach was so harsh on Ozil at Madrid was that he felt he was staying within his comfort zone, and during his Arsenal career you would have to say he has drifted back into that mode.
One source I spoke to suggested Ozil does have his eye on being reunited with Mourinho because he feels he would benefit from the rise in expectation.
United blogger Patterson agreed.
"On a free transfer at the end of the season, it almost feels like too good of an opportunity to miss," he said. "If Mourinho is keen, the fans should support him. His transfer record at United so far has been brilliant."
The Lure of PSG
It is worth opening up the discussion to look at other landing spots for Ozil if he does call time on his Arsenal career.
Fenerbahce are the only club with a firm interest, letting the player's representatives know they would sign him in a heartbeat.
It is believed the option does not appeal to Ozil at this stage of his career as it would seem too much of a step down.
The other potential club I have been told to watch out for is Paris Saint-Germain.
Over the summer we saw the depth of their ambition as both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe signed. It should be no real surprise that Ozil—on a free transfer—would appeal.
The style of football in Ligue 1 would suit him down to the ground, particularly as PSG are so dominant each week. It would also give him an opportunity to compete for trophies in France and Europe.
Per BBC World Service, Julian Draxler, a team-mate in the national side, has made it clear he would love him to join up—and the Paris club could certainly match his wage expectations.
Ozil will be free to speak to other clubs from January.
Factors in His Decision-Making
So, where do we go from here?
Ozil has an offer on the table from Arsenal to extend his stay at the club, on terms upwards of £250,000 per week once bonuses are included. They want him to stay—but that's as much to do with the fact they do not want him to leave without a transfer fee as it is to do with what he offers them on the pitch.
From Ozil's point of view, it's a decent rise on his current pay of £140,000-a-week—but at this stage you wonder whether he feels there is anything to gain from staying.
He would be making a considerable climbdown, given all discussions up to now have centred around him insisting on wages in advance of £300,000 per week.
And away from the financial side of things, Ozil is clearly angry about the way he is used as a scapegoat when things go badly at Arsenal.
Earlier this month he used Facebook (h/t Sky Sports) to vent his frustration and told club legends to "stop talking and start supporting!"
He joined Arsenal to develop personally and help bring success to the club, but a trophy haul of three FA Cups is not quite what he had in mind back in 2013.
The Premier League has tested him physically and mentally, and there is a feeling he now needs to move on. Mourinho is his only option in England, but the easiest option will be to pocket huge money and chase trophies in a team of superstars at a club such as PSG instead.