Mesut Ozil can save Arsenal’s mascot, but it won’t make a difference to manager Mikel Arteta. Ozil’s career in north London is still lurching toward a slow death next summer.
Club mascot Gunnersaurus, basically a grown man in a Dinosaur costume, was made redundant recently . Jerry Quy wore the outfit for 27 years, but he became a victim of Arsenal’s fiscal streamlining in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ozil was having none of it, though. Arsenal’s highest-earner stepped in on Tuesday with an offer to pay Quy’s wages:
The gesture is a classy one from Mesut Ozil, but it won’t mend his rift with Arsenal. He’s been on the outside looking in since Premier League football restarted in June.
Ozil has been left out of matchday squads by former teammate Arteta. The issue stems from a wage cut Arsenal proposed during the lockdown.
Arteta convinced most of his players to accept the cut, but Ozil was one of the few who refused. His stance was galling for many since the 31-year-old earns £350,000 per week.
Yet Ozil’s refusal was seen in a different light after Arsenal announced 55 redundancies back in August. Ozil was quick to express he felt vindicated :
Possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch, I don’t know. But I’m not afraid to stand up for what I feel is right — and when you see what has happened now with the jobs, maybe I was.
Going public with his intention to preserve Quy’s job likely won’t win Ozil any new friends among the Arsenal hierarchy:
A spotlight has been shone on people losing their jobs at the worst time. Arsenal spent heavily in this transfer window, recruiting Willian, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Thomas Partey.
Regular employees being denied their means to make a living looks bad against the backdrop of new and expensive recruits.
The irony of all this is that Arsenal could still use Mesut Ozil’s talents on the pitch. He’s the most gifted playmaker in a squad otherwise woefully short of creativity.
Arsenal used to be defined by an artful and attacking style of play. Yet things have regressed since Arsene Wenger left the club in 2018.
Arteta played five seasons for Wenger, but he’s struggled to recreate the same magic going forward:
Arsenal added to midfield by acquiring Partey from Atletico Madrid on deadline day. He’s more of an enforcer rather than a player who will add goals and assists.
Ozil still has the vision and technique to unlock any defense when he’s motivated. The problem is his languid style doesn’t fit with Arteta’s tactics, which are based on relentless pressing and disciplined team shape.
Those things require energy and graft. Ozil’s flair would up the entertainment value in Arsenal’s play, but he’s a luxury Arteta appears unwilling to indulge, even though the player is out of contract next June.
That’s not likely to change, even in response to Ozil’s mascot-saving charm offensive.