Mesut Ozil Tweets Dennis Bergkamp Quote Amid Arsenal Struggles

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal during the FA Cup 4th round match between Arsenal and Manchester United at The Emirates Stadium on January 25, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

The words of Dennis Bergkamp have been used by Mesut Ozil amid the latter's struggles for playing time at Arsenal this season.

Ozil posted a tweet on Friday quoting the Dutchman, who won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during a memorable 11-year stint with the Gunners:

The Independent suggested the tweet could be a veiled message to manager Unai Emery.

Ozil quoting Bergkamp is apt given that both are No. 10s defined by their artistry on the ball.

Yet while Bergkamp consistently delivered the goods, Ozil has been a mercurial and polarising figure since signing for a then-club record £42.4 million in 2013.

Those inconsistencies are one reason why Ozil has increasingly been on the outside looking in since Emery replaced Arsene Wenger in the dugout.

Ozil has been compared to Bergkamp but has never matched the Dutch master's sustained brilliance at Arsenal.
Ozil has been compared to Bergkamp but has never matched the Dutch master's sustained brilliance at Arsenal.CARL DE SOUZA/Getty Images

Arsenal's highest-earneron £350,000 per week after signing a new deal in January 2018last started a game on January 29 when the Gunners beat Cardiff City 2-1 at home in the Premier League. Ozil's previous start came as far back as December 26, when he played 45 minutes in the 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Ozil was left out of the squad for Arsenal's shock 1-0 loss to BATE Borisov in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League last 32 on Thursday. The Gunners were sorely lacking creativity in Belarus, mustering just four shots on target despite having over 76 percent possession.

Ozil's vision and passing ability would surely have helped, and there is perhaps a degree of opportunism about his decision to tweet this message. Some, including Arseblog's Andrew Mangan, believe there is also a cynical element to Ozil's timing:

Ozil's situation is increasingly being played out on social media amid what appears to be a brewing spat between Emery and his star player.

The German international recently liked an Instagram post criticising his boss and the decision to leave him out of the squad to face BATE, per Metro.

There are reminders of Jose Mourinho's ill-fated standoff with Paul Pogba at Manchester United. It ultimately contributed to Mourinho losing his job, while the public nature of things was an embarrassment for the club.

Questions have intensified about why Emery doesn't trust Ozil and seems content to let an expensive asset go to waste:

The issue isn't going away, despite Emery reportedly "becoming increasingly irritated by so much focus being given to someone who is not even playing," per Mark Irwin of The Sun.

Emery's frustration is understandable, even though this is in part a problem of his own making.

There's no denying Ozil is not an ideal fit for the Spaniard's intense, high-pressing game, but the languid playmaker remains Arsenal's most gifted creator.

The onus is on Emery to accept he doesn't have the players he wants to perform his preferred style this season. In the meantime, getting the best from those he has, including Ozil, would surely give Arsenal a better chance of achieving the club's main target: returning to the UEFA Champions League after an absence of two seasons.

Emery has been content to try and win without Arsenal's most talented player this season.
Emery has been content to try and win without Arsenal's most talented player this season.Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

It will require either beating Manchester United or Chelsea to fourth place or winning the Europa League, a trophy Emery lifted three times while in charge of Sevilla.

Both would be easier to achieve with Ozil in the side, since none of Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan nor Denis Suarez can match his ability to manufacture chances.

The Gunners are also going to have a hard time convincing possible suitors to buy Ozil if he isn't playing. No club will want to pay what would no doubt be a hefty wage packet without being sure a player who turns 31 next October still has a lot left in the locker.

Starting Ozil and counting on him to help Arsenal back into the Champions League can facilitate the player's exit in the summer. It would also give Emery the funds needed to sign players better-suited to his methods.

Arsenal's other creative players, including Mkhitaryan, have struggled to carry the load while Ozil has been left out.
Arsenal's other creative players, including Mkhitaryan, have struggled to carry the load while Ozil has been left out.SERGEI GAPON/Getty Images

Instead, a mounting media war is being played out, with the player reaffirming his desire to stay while his coach stands firm on building a team without him.

The worst-case scenario is a divided dressing room. Some players already think Emery is lashing out at Ozil because he's still stung by having his authority usurped by Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain last season, per Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail on Friday.

Whoever wins this tussle will have a huge say in determining what Arsenal look like in the post-Wenger era. It's a period so far being undermined by a lack of resolution on Ozil's future.

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