3 players who could replace Mesut Ozil at Arsenal
- Mesut Ozil has been a divisive figure at Arsenal since he moved to the Emirates in 2013.
- With doubts surrounding his future at the club, the Gunners should start looking for his replacement.
Mikel Arteta's first campaign as Arsenal manager may have come to a sudden halt following the suspension of all football activity due to the coronavirus outbreak but it's fair to say that the Spaniard has significantly improved the team in his first few months in charge.
Despite getting dumped out of the Europa League, the Gunners look so much better under the former Manchester City assistant manager. The 37-year-old tactician, however, knows he still has a lot of work to do to get the club competing with the best again, with one of the major tasks being to find a replacement for Mesut Ozil.
The former Real Madrid man has endured a tough time at Arsenal especially after the arrival of Unai Emery. The midfielder was frozen out under the former Sevilla boss and was often played out of position leading to poor performances. However, since Arteta took over the reins at the Emirates, Ozil has been making regular appearances for the London giants and his performances have been gradually improving.
The German playmaker remains one of the most naturally talented players in Europe but Arsenal are unlikely to extend his stay as his inconsistent displays, coupled with his exorbitant wages, are becoming a huge problem for the club.
Having said that, we take a look at three players Arsenal should target to replace Ozil should he leave the club this summer:
#1 Orkun Kokcu (Feyenoord)
Orkun Kokcu is a product of the famed Groningen academy and moved to Feyenoord in 2014 to further his development. The 19-year old broke into the Feyenoord first team in the 2018-19 season and while he was not a regular, he made the most of the chances that were given to him.
The Turkish midfielder has since become a pivotal figure in the Feyenoord midfield and has contributed a total of 3 goals and 6 assists in all competitions this season.
Kokcu is a creative attacking midfielder and a strong dribbler who can slice open any defence with one precise pass. He is a perfect No. 10 and would be an exciting signing for the Gunners this summer. Having said that, the 19-year-old still has a lot to learn and working under a young manager like Arteta could reap massive benefits for his career.
Despite having two more years left on his current contract, reports say the Gunners have already opened talks to sign Kokcu and seem confident that a deal can be completed.
#2 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Jack Grealish, who has been a standout performer for Aston Villa and one of the best players in the Premier League this season, is an ideal candidate to replace Ozil at Arsenal, should the German playmaker leave the club soon.
The Englishman's stamina, determination, and commitment are qualities that have been lacking in Ozil's performances and while there is no doubt that the former Real Madrid man is an extraordinary player, his style of play has never suited the Gunners.
The Villans will likely demand a huge fee to part ways with Grealish and the numbers could skyrocket the moment more clubs show interest.
Arsenal are, however, not favourites to land the 24-year-old midfielder and the only way they could stand a chance to secure his services is by selling key players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, freeing up Ozil's wage bill this summer while also qualifying for the Champions League.
#3 Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)
Emile Smith Rowe, who is highly-rated among the youngsters at the Emirates, could very well be the ideal long-term replacement to Ozil. The 19-year-old has scored 6 goals in an Arsenal shirt and has been largely impressive during his current loan spell at Huddersfield Town.
The youngster has netted one goal and provided three assists in 10 appearances for the Terriers and manager Danny Cowley was full of praise for him recently. He said:
"Emile Smith Rowe is just a really lovely player, isn't he? He has that ability to find space; he could find space in a telephone box; he speeds the play up for you and draws and commits and I think it would have been a brilliant performance if he had scored."
Arteta's plan to rebuild Arsenal is going to take a lot of time and with the number of youth players integrated into the first team, it would not be a surprise to see Smith Rowe return to the club next season. If the Spanish tactician decides to bring the young midfielder back, he'll have to be patient with him and with Ozil as his mentor, there is no reason why he will not be able to succeed the German soon.
Published 23 Mar 2020, 20:40 IST