Before the transfer window opened, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis spoke of the impressive war chest that Arsene Wenger had at his disposal this summer. Fans rubbed their hands with glee at the prospect of seeing a number of big-name arrivals at Emirates Stadium, only to see north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur steal the limelight having broken their transfer record on three separate occasions to bring in Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela.
Arsenal in comparison had signed just Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini, both on free transfers. As the deadline loomed, supporters became tetchy at the lack of movement. Then, in the aftermath of the 1-0 win over Spurs on September 1, Wenger spoke in his post-match interview of a "surprise" signing, claiming he was "confident" the move would go through before the 11pm BST deadline on September 2.
Rumours were rife as to who the mystery signing could be, with Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil the favourite to make the switch to the capital. A pivotal member of Los Blancos’ starting XI, many were of the opinion that talk was more smoke without fire. Yet, on the back of Gareth Bale’s record-breaking move to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, reports of Ozil departing the Spanish capital began to pick up pace.
Then, 30 minutes before the transfer window shut, Arsenal confirmed Ozil had signed in a deal worth £42.5 million, making the midfielder the most expensive German player in the history of the game. Fans were understandably excited by the announcement, with the vast majority taking to Twitter to express their delight at the capture of the playmaker.
Here, WhoScored.com look to the stats to suggest why the Gunners faithful are right to be delighted.
After moving from Werder Bremen to Spain in 2010, Ozil was a consistent performer for Real, both domestically and on the continent. That he accumulated 47 league assists between his arrival in Spain and his departure -- no player accrued more -- denotes his exceptional creative ability.
Many have argued the case that "passing to Ronaldo" ensured his assist return was always going to be high, but the 13 he mustered during his final year in the Bundesliga accentuates how effective a player he is pushing forward. This alone shows why Madrid fans were chanting "Don't sell Ozil" during Bale’s unveiling at the Bernabeu last week. Moreover, a number of influential first team members -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa to name three – have voiced their concerns about his sale, while Spanish paper AS suggested that it would have been wiser to have sold Sami Khedira to Manchester United instead of Ozil to Arsenal.
Their collective point is vindicated when taking into account that the 24 clear-cut chances he created last season was the most in Europe’s top five leagues, while the 62 during his time in Spain was bettered only by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (65). When considering the number of key passes (324) he executed over the same period -- 133 more than any other player -- the Madridistas’ anger over his departure is understandable.
His loss, however, is Arsenal’s gain. While the Gunners weren’t in the hunt specifically for a player in his role -- the pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez reinforced as much -- Ozil remains one of the game’s most creative players. Compared to the innovative performers available to Wenger, the German is a level above his new team-mates, as evidenced by his 47 La Liga assists.
Fortuitously, Olivier Giroud’s start to the season has papered over the cracks that came with missing out on a big name striker, but with Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain abd Tomas Rosicky all sidelined with injury, Ozil’s acquisition could prove to be that much more pertinent. Having averaged five key passes per game already this term, his figure is a better return than Santi Cazorla’s 3.3, with the Spaniard Arsenal’s best performer in that category.
On the other hand, there are slight reservations surrounding his arrival. As previously mentioned, Arsenal’s eventual doomed pursuit for a striker saw them land only Sanogo on a free transfer and should Giroud succumb to injury or see his form dwindle somewhat, an adequate stand-in isn’t available to Wenger.
Having also missed out on Luiz Gustavo and Geoffrey Kondogbia to Wolfsburg and Monaco respectively, the chance to solidify an often-weak midfield has also passed them by. Granted, Flamini will bolster the ranks in the middle of the park defensively, but with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta ahead of the Frenchman in the pecking order, a player that would have provided genuine competition in this role could have been a better investment for the Gunners.
Nevertheless, the signing of Ozil is a statement of intent by the north London side as they look to end their nine-year hunt for a trophy. A player of his quality has lifted the spirits of the fans and morale across the club has unsurprisingly soared as a result of the arrival of arguably the most exciting Premier League acquisition in recent history.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.