Expensive he may have been, but the £42.4million signing of Mesut Ozil was a masterstroke on the part of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
Given Arsenal’s recent history and current position in English football, is the targeting of three of the Bundesliga’s brightest lights an impossible dream or a realistic aspiration? Well in truth it is a little of both.
The effect Ozil’s arrival could have at the Emirates cannot be overstated. A player approaching the peak of his career choosing Arsenal speaks of a bright future for the Gunners.
In a league of rare bona fide superstars, Arsenal have just bagged one of the best. And while they are still a striker, defensive midfielder, centre-back and goalkeeper away from being complete, Ozil’s ability could paper over at least some of the cracks until Wenger can spend again.
Of the three players most recently linked, Bender is the most likely arrival. Bayer Leverkusen may have rejected an £18.5million offer earlier this year, but Bender is exactly the kind of player Arsenal need to play behind their growing array of attacking talent.
Gundogan would be an outstanding addition, but given his current standing at Borussia Dortmund, and their current standing in European football, neither he nor Marco Reus are likely to swap a resurgent Bundesliga for the Premier League just yet.
But one thing is clear – Wenger has switched from French to German, at least when it comes to his pursuit of footballing talent.
While others have sat and admired the resurgence of Dortmund and Bayern Munich, Wenger has been quietly crafting something potentially similar of his own.
Plenty of English clubs have been linked with German players in recent times, but only Arsenal have followed through with it to any significant effect.
With Schalke wonder-kid Julian Draxler also peaking Wenger’s interest, could he and Bender be the next to follow Ozil through the door?
His French revolution saw the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit arrive and ultimately transform the club.
With Ozil the latest but surely not the last German to arrive, could Wenger have been plotting his evolution for longer than he has let on?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald