Divorces, as anyone who has been through one knows, are rarely amicable, particularly if one side doesn’t really want one. Things get unpleasant fast, not just for the two going through it, but for the friends and family of those two, as nobody really knows what to say, what to do, or how to act.
It looks like the messy breakup between Arsenal and Mesut Özil is reaching a very awkward phase right now. Reports from David Ornstein say that manager Unai Emery has told Özil that it would be “best for him” to leave the club. Ornstein also says this:
The hierarchy of the club feels that they would like him to move on.
That part is probably the worst. That hierarchy apparently feels that Özil is way too expensive for what the club is getting:
(that feeling is) mainly financially driven for a player earning £350,000 per week but also related to that is the fact he is not performing anywhere near the level when he has played on a consistent basis as we know he can produce from the past.
There’s also this little nugget, which is a new (to me, anyway) bit of information:
He’s determined to work his way back into the side. The word was he wasn’t doing a lot of the extra work most players were, and he is now. I’ve heard positive things about his behaviour, his commitment, his relationships with the teammates.
I am in no way a “grit and hustle” guy - I don’t believe you can tell much from body language, and I don’t believe on-pitch facial expressions or speed of gait during a game tell us anything about a player’s desire, skill, or motivation.
What I do believe, though, is that outside the game, in training, if there’s 24 guys in a 25 man squad staying late and doing extra work, and one guy says “nope, Im’a head home and chill, see ya tomorrow”...that says something.
That says a player thinks he doesn’t need the work. And even if he doesn’t - even if that player is the best player in the squad - if that player leaves early, it sends a pretty clear signal to the rest of the team that that player doesn’t feel like he needs to be part of the team. And that matters.
A sports team is very much a meritocracy - you get what you work for. If you’re a talented enough athlete that you don’t necessarily need to work as hard as the lower end of the roster, that’s fine - but you should still find ways to lead and to do the work that your teammates are doing, or do your own work, because there’s always something you can improve on.
If all this is true, if Özil didn’t put in the same work as his teammates, I can understand why Emery is not happy with him. At £350,000 a week, Özil can’t afford to not be the hardest working player in training, or close to it, and if that’s why Emery doghoused him, I can understand that. I still don’t necessarily love it, but it makes sense.
Either way, whether Özil works his way back into the club’s good graces or whether he moves on, I want this to be resolved sooner than later. Unfortunately, it looks like whatever this is will drag on, probably until the summer.