Arsenal’s Creative Quandry

The summer transfer window will bring sweeping changes for the Gunners as Emery attempts to find players to integrate into his tactical approach of high pressing. In order for acquisitions to be made, Arsenal will need to sell off a few of their players especially considering their unsubstantial transfer budget. Mesut Özil had only signed a new contract for Arsenal in 2018, but it looks as though the German maestro will be on his way out. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was involved in the transfer swap with Alexis Sanchez moving to Manchester United. However, his influence may not be great enough to see him beyond the summer. Both players have been linked with moves away from the Emirates, but would Arsenal be better off with one or both of them next year?

Mesut Özil has been reintroduced back into the side over the course of the last couple of months. Prior to this, he was relegated to missing out on the match day squad on many occasions. Whether it was down to injury or simply a difference of opinions with Unai Emery, Özil constantly appears to be one poor appearance or bad training session away from resuming his position on Arsenal’s bench. Regardless of whether or not Emery prefers Özil, the German international is an enviable talent who on his day can create a game winning stroke of brilliance. His ability to unlock the opposing team’s back line accompanied by his silky one touch passes create a mystifying display of world class talent.

The criticism for Özil has been his disappearance in high profile matches. Yet, he consistently performed at the highest level during his international career and took part in Germany’s 2014 World Cup victory. He has played with the likes of Ronaldo and Thomas Mueller. The discussion of him being a fit for Arsenal should not be accompanied by accusations of a lack of commitment. Unfortunately for Özil, his statistics do not support his case. He has appeared in 18 matches in the Premier League, but only assisted on two occasions while netting four goals. According to Transfermrkt.com, Özil’s transfer value dropped to just under £40 million. Despite inevitable room for debate, this drop highlights the overall opinion that Özil does not influence a side like he used to.

The Mirror has just reported that Arsenal may be looking to move on from Henrik Mkhitaryan. The Armenian midfielder has recorded four assists and six goals through 18 Premier League appearances this season. He has primarily been utilized as either an attacking midfielder wide player as part of a front three. He also spent eight games on the sidelines due to a metatarsal fracture, but has played an influential role since.

Mkhitaryan was more than just a sweetening of the pot to get Arsenal to sell Sanchez to Manchester United. On many occasions throughout the season, he proves himself a significant component Emery’s high press. His ability to track back and assist in defensive duties is further exemplified by the absence of Hector Bellerin, who is out for the remainder of the season. Mkhitaryan may not possess the same level of talent as Mesut Özil, but he remains a critical figure in the Arsenal side. His close friendship with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang creates an added benefit in regards to picking out Aubameyang’s runs.

It would be hard for Arsenal to replace the quality of both players in one transfer window. Arsenal do not currently have any other players that offer the creative abilities that are occupied by Özil and Mkhitaryan. Finding a player that could create attacking opportunities while being high energy in the press will not come cheaply. If Arsenal try to raise funds for the summer, ridding themselves of both players could be a fruitful endeavor.

The more likely of the two that would depart this summer would be Özil. Mesut simply does not press with the vigor that Emery desires. Now this, coupled with the uncertainty of his influence on any given week, only furthers the reasoning to begone of his talents.Özil’s contract is a significant hindrance to any side coveting his services. Mkhitaryan’s roughly £180,000 a week salary is almost half of Özil’s £350,000.

Mkhitaryan would be the better player to sell if Arsenal are trying to raise funds without a great deal of hassle. His qualities as a player accompanied by his reasonable salary make for a much more enticing purchase for any interested club. Still, in terms of tactical fit, Özil is more likely to be sold if he is unable to fully adapt and believe in Emery’s approach. The quandary for Arsenal remains a need to build a team sufficient to Emery’s liking. A creative, hardworking, and resilient attacking player is what Emery requires. The Gunners also demand a prudent transfer perspective with the club’s available finances.

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