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Mesut Ozil exit allows Arsenal, and Mikel Arteta, to look ahead at a brighter - and younger - future

Simon Collings
·3-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

In a way, it is fitting that Arsenal are playing a side like Newcastle as they prepare to bid farewell to Mesut Ozil.

This month’s FA Cup tie between the two sides showed us exactly what we should expect from Newcastle, who will come to Emirates Stadium with the intention of sitting deep and trying to frustrate Arsenal.

In previous years, they were exactly the sort of defences Ozil would be charged with unlocking.

More recently, during Ozil’s exile, games like this one against Newcastle, is which Arsenal could struggle to work their way past a low block, would reignite the argument that the German should be in the team.

Now, though, that can no longer be the case as Ozil is finally set to leave Emirates Stadium nearly a year since he last played for the club.

There are likely to be some benefits for Arsenal, with the German expected to give up a proportion of the £7million he is owed in wages so he can leave his deal six months early. But there are further positives beyond financial.

Ozil’s departure brings an end to a saga that has dominated, and at times overshadowed, what has been happening on the pitch at Arsenal. It is not the German’s fault he was handed a £350,000-a-week contract but, ever since he was, that has been the centre of attention.

It has been a millstone around Arsenal’s neck, both financially and metaphorically. When things were going bad, particularly under the final days of Unai Emery, Ozil’s contract would be brought up.

Even when he hasn’t been playing, Ozil has been the centre of attention - be it for his tweets or Q&As.

Again, there is nothing to stop him doing that, but you can’t help but feel now Ozil is going Arsenal can look to move on.

Ozil flew to Istanbul late on Monday night.via REUTERS
Ozil flew to Istanbul late on Monday night.via REUTERS

Mikel Arteta has, in fairness, handled the situation pretty well. He has not shirked the questions around Ozil in press conferences, nor has he looked to undermined the German.

“What Mesut has done at the football club is unquestionable and that will stay,” he said earlier this month when discussing Ozil’s legacy.

Now, though, with Ozil almost out the door, you feel as though Arteta can step up his Arsenal rebuild.

Ozil always felt like a relic from the Arsene Wenger era. Partly because he is a classically Wenger player - an artist on the pitch - but also because his contract was one of the last major deals the Frenchman oversaw.

Saka and Smith Rowe have shown they are up for the challenge of driving Arsenal forward.Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Saka and Smith Rowe have shown they are up for the challenge of driving Arsenal forward.Arsenal FC via Getty Images

The fact that is now over feels decisive and Arteta can now look towards the future, which is bright at Arsenal.
Young players, such as Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, are beginning to make their mark on this team and now they have a platform to flourish.

Ozil’s departure leaves a hole, not only on the pitch but off it too. Without doubt, the German is a global superstar and a marketer’s dream.

That space, now needs to be filled and the challenge is on the next generation to lead Arsenal forward - starting with Newcastle tonight.

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