Was Oezil a panic buy?

When the sun went down in London on September 2, the jury was still out. When would Arsene Wenger make that elusive signing for Arsenal?

It happened way before the stroke of midnight and with all the rumours of him signing Karim Benzema or Angel di Maria, the man Wenger did sign was another Real Madrid star, Mesut Oezil.

Financially, the Gunners broke their club record to sign the German – £42.5-million – and in many ways this was a win-win situation for all parties, though some Real fans won’t agree.

The arrival of Gareth Bale in Madrid forced Florentino Perez and Carlo Ancelotti to balance the books but at the same time, the sale of Oezil was seen as a loss of trust between the playmaker and Ancelotti, which the former had already stated.

For Arsenal, it represented their biggest signing since Jose Antonio Reyes in 2004, and possibly the belief that this could be the man to help Arsenal end their nine-year silverware drought.

Was this a panic buy?

Some may say yes, others no, but I believe that Wenger had monitored the situation for a very long time and was keeping an eye on the Bale saga, which directly led the Arsenal boss to signing Oezil.

The stats see Wenger take over a playmaker, who in his three seasons at the Bernebau, conjured up 27 goals in 159 games, but more importantly, the German made 71 assists, a shade less than of the games he had played for Los Blancos.

Oezil is without doubt the best playmaker in the world because of his technical abilities and his vision to split defences open, but the biggest question is he does solve Arsenal’s problems?

Wenger may have been the hero in signing the German, but the way he approached his other targets were seen as failure.

The inability to land Luis Gustavo – a holding-midfielder – and Gonzalo Higuain – a striker – were departments Arsenal really needed to bolster and while the signing of Oezil may bring a ray of light, it just doesn’t solve their problems.

The centre-half partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertersacker has become somewhat of a decent pairing, but should one of them get injured, then what?

Thomas Vermeulen has yet to return and throwing in Bacary Sagna or the mediocre Johan Djourou immediately asks the opposition attacks to hunt the Gunners like Lions.

Jack Wilshere was originally seen as a player who could fit in behind the No 9, but he can slowly define himself in that holding position along with Aaron Ramsey, a player I have criticised a lot, but one who is slowly showing his worth.

Again, the problem of injuries striking, especially with Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosciky seemingly made of glass.

Now it comes to the creative department, one where Arsenal really do have some depth.

Santi Cazorla and Oezil the already established playmakers, but what it does bring is a good but complicated headache for Wenger.

Both are not fans of playing out wide, but Wenger will have to be tempted into playing both in the starting line-up because of the impact both Cazorla and Oezil can bring.

But again, their next problem comes Olivier Giroud.

He didn’t have the most fruitful season last campaign, but this season he has started well, scoring four goals in all competitions and showing some signs of improvement.

But what happens when the Frenchman gets injured, can Wenger trust the kid Yaya Sanogo, play Theo Walcott in a position where he can blow hot and cold or even throw in the man the fans favour least, Nicklas Bendtner … remember him?

The fact is that despite the signing of Oezil which makes things look rosy at the Emirates, there were departments which Wenger could have bolstered which may or may not come back to haunt him as the season progresses.

But if Arsenal centre-back partnership concedes the least goals, if Wilshere and Ramsey become the next Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires (or Gilberto Silva) and Oezil can help Giroud get over 30 goals this season, leading him to transform to the next best Frenchman to hit north-London since Thierry Henry.

Then those who doubted Wenger including myself will eat humble pie.

The arrival of Oezil doesn’t paper over the cracks of another poor transfer campaign at Arsenal.

But what it does is make Arsenal a better team than they were two weeks ago and maybe – with a sense of optimism – brings a chance of Arsenal ending their nine-year wait for a trophy.




today in print

today in print