Mesut Özil’s tenure at Arsenal is over. The German midfielder has reached an agreement in principle with the club to terminate his contract, per The Athletic. The move allows him to join Turkish side Fenerbahçe on a free transfer, which is expected to be finalized in the coming days.
The agreement finally brings the months of speculation and tiresome banter about his non-inclusion on the Arsenal roster to a long-overdue close. More importantly, it gets his £350K-per-week wages off the books and allows that money to be redirected elsewhere. The club will also save some amount of the £7M still due on Özil’s contract, though it’s not clear how much.
Rumors about where Özil might be headed have been swirling since the summer, with D.C. United and the Turkish league as the most consistent ones. Turns out, the German midfielder dropped a significant hint with this Instagram post from last week. Also of note, Sokratis replied to the post with a winky-face emoji, and he’s been heavily linked with a move to the Turkish side, as well.
Özil leaves a complicated legacy at Arsenal. When Arsenal made the big-money move for him in 2013, it was a rarity and a massive moment in club history — the Gunners had moved for a top-of-the-market, in-his-prime, world-class player. He had some magnificent seasons at the club and lived up to the “world-class” hype. We’re all familiar with the recent narrative, too — that his contract has become an albatross and a drag on club finances and that his attitude at training ground might leave something to be desired.
Plenty will be written in the coming days dissecting Özil’s time in North London, including “We Had Özil” by Aidan. We’ve got some other stuff coming as well in the next few days.
I’ll say this so it’s on the record if I don’t get around to penning something longer and more in-depth: Mesut Özil was a wizard on the pitch and a joy to watch. He did things that very few other footballers could do and could turn the routine into the sublime. Every time he got on the ball in the attacking third had the potential to turn into a scoring chance. That was really, really fun.
All the best in Turkey, Mesut. You’re always welcome back in North London in my book.