Transfer Talk podcast: Mesut Ozil's bumper Arsenal contract has 'hampered their ability to grow'

Football expert Raphael Honigstein on Mesut Ozil's impact on Arsenal in the transfer market: "If you spend so much one on one player and he's no longer in the squad, that affects your ability to attract others. So part of those issues go back to the decision to give him a new contract."

Mesut Ozil is "closer than ever" to joining Fenerbahce from Arsenal and ending his near year-long exile at the Emirates, according to the Turkish club's sporting director
Image: Mesut Ozil is "closer than ever" to joining Fenerbahce from Arsenal and ending his near year-long exile at the Emirates, according to the Turkish club's sporting director

The Transfer Talk podcast discuss if Mesut Ozil's Arsenal stand-off is finally coming to an end - and why has he "hampered their ability to grow" in the transfer market?

Ozil has long been rumoured to be leaving the Emirates Stadium with the Gunners keen to free up his £350,000-a-week wages, and this week was said to be "closer than ever" to joining Fenerbahce according to the club's sporting director Emre Belozoglu.

The German international has been cast out by Mikel Arteta for most of the manager's year-long tenure to date - he has not played since the 1-0 win against West Ham last March and not been part of a matchday squad since Arsenal's victory over Southampton in their third fixture after last season resumed following the coronavirus shutdown.

February 27, 2020, London, United Kingdom: Arsenals Mesut Ozil during the UEFA Europa League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: 27th February 2020. 0:40
Fenerbahce president Ali Koc has revealed that a deal to sign Mesut Ozil from Arsenal is closer than it has been previously.

Football expert Raphael Honigstein told the Transfer Talk podcast the long-running saga with Ozil across three managerial reigns had proven damaging for the club's hopes of bringing in new players, and questioned whether another boss - also currently operating in north London - would have got more out of him.

"I think if you spend so much on one player, and then for whatever reason, he's no longer in the squad that affects your ability to attract other players. So part of those issues go back to Arsenal's decision to give him that new contract.

"I mean, no one forced and that's the point he's always making. No one forced them to give him this huge deal. They felt it was absolutely necessary. One of the last things Arsene Wenger did was make sure that he signed that new deal.

"And that hampered Arsenal's ability to grow in the transfer market ever since. But of course, some of these issues preceded that; some of the weakness that we saw from Arsenal preceded that, how much was Mesut responsible for that rather than just being part or sort of swept up in it? It's impossible to answer.

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"But that's just my personal view, I think he might have been well-served by someone with a slightly stronger grip on dressing room dynamics and on forcing players really to try a bit harder and be less comfortable.

"I think, the latter stages of the Wenger era, and I would include Mesut in that, were characterised by everyone becoming a little bit too comfortable. And I think a different manager might have got more out of Mesut just as Jose Mourinho did."

Ozil played a major part in his country's World Cup win a year after joining the Gunners in 2014, but six years on, Honigstein said he had become a forgotten man in his home country as a result of his up-and-down career at the Emirates.

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Former Germany international Dietmar Hamann assesses the situation with Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.

"Mesut is somebody who divides opinion," he said. "He always has done even at the best of times, there were people in Germany who thought that, you know, his playing style wasn't, you know, wasn't that attractive, or perhaps suggested that he doesn't try hard enough.

"He always had his detractors. But of course, there was a spell where he was untouchable within the Germany team. And he was a key figure of Germany's amazing run towards the World Cup in 2014. I think now that he's at Arsenal, and not playing, it's a little bit of a case of out of sight out of mind.

"I don't think there are many people in Germany sort of worrying or thinking about Mesut at the moment, especially since he also retired from the national team in 2018. So people I think, have kind of forgotten just how good a player he was and how good a player he could still be."

'No player wants to sign a deal that makes them worse off'

One major stumbling block to both Arteta and predecessor Unai Emery's hopes of getting Ozil off the Arsenal wage bill has been the size of his lucrative contract, which he signed in February 2018, only months before Wenger's retirement.

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Sky Sports News' Dharmesh Sheth told the podcast a move to Fenerbahce would prove dependent on compromise from both clubs and the player himself - but that there had been a telling change in tone from Arteta to the ongoing questions about his future.

He said: "If a deal is to be over the line, there are going to have to be compromise. Not only from Fenerbahce or Arsenal, but maybe from Ozil himself.

"With £350,000-a-week to be paid to Ozil until the end of his contract, Arsenal are likely to still have to pay the majority of that, Ozil might have to forego some of that and Fenerbahce's compromise might be filling in the gap to make sure they pay a proportion of that wage.

"All of the noises from Fenerbahce and even Mikel Arteta is much more open in talking about Mesut Ozil and the fact he could leave.

"If Arsenal can recoup any money for the next six months - say they get Fenerbahce to pay £100,000 a week, and even that is unrealistic because that's a lot of money for a Turkish club, but just say, for example, that that was the case, you're looking at a saving of £1.5m to £2m for Arsenal, and that is better than no saving at all."

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