Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was instrumental in convincing the German international his future ought to reside at the Emirates where the longest serving manager in the Premier League has developed and refined some of the finest footballers in the world over his 16-year reign in North London.
Ozil himself cited the likes of Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas as inspirations in his decision to leave Real Madrid for a fee that makes him the most expensive German footballer in history – something he insists he is proud of but that won’t faze him.
He joins international teammates Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski who also influenced his decision to move to England, he stated. However, in the reserve and youth ranks at the Emirates, German youngster Thomas Eisfeld, formerly of Borrussia Dortmund’s academy, and Germany U19 starlet Serge Gnabry also reside.
The latter of the young pair, 20-year-old Thomas Eisfeld has impressed in his senior outings in Wenger’s side. The attacking midfielder has been one of the standout performers for Arsenal’s U21 team for whom his the primary playmaker, functioning in a similar role to Ozil who, although he’ll wear the number 11 shirt, is one of the world’s most gifted number 10’s.
Eisfeld has already gotten off to a good start in the U21 Premier League this season, scoring two goals in three appearances for the Gunners. Last season, he scored 8 goals and made two assists in just 12 appearances in the U21’s league as well as making his senior debut for Arsenal as a substitute in the Capital One Cup.
Winger Gnabry is likely to break through to the senior ranks before his elder compatriot – there are big things expected from the teenager who has made the senior team bench three times this term alongside 16-year-old German U16’s starlet Gedion Zelalem.
The arrival of Ozil at the Emirates is surely great news for these youngsters – the impact Fabregas had on Jack Wilshere in his development as a midfielder is well documented and the England youngster shadowed and understudied the Spaniard so much so that you can see the influence the former skipper had unfolding right before your eyes when Wilshere plays.
The turns, the runs, the movement, the technique and the passing of Wilshere is Fabregas-esc and I suspect if the likes of Eisfeld, Gnabry and even young Zelalem study Ozil in training they have the capacity to emulate his style of play.
Ozil’s movement, vision and technique is indeed ‘unique’ as he has been described by national team coach Joachim Low and new coach Wenger.
Young Ethiopian-born Zelalem demonstrated in the Gunners’ pre-season tour of Indonesia just what an exceptionally gifted prospect he is for the future – his passing and vision was mature beyond his years and I would even go so far as to say he will be capable of being a senior team member, possibly better than Wilshere, in the next two or three years once his body catches up with his mind. Even Wilshere has stated he has his eye on the youngster who may well compete with him for his role in the years to come.
If he and Eisfeld can learn from Ozil – which they undoubtedly will in training along the way – they could very well become the stars of tomorrow, not just for Arsenal but for Germany too. At the very least, having the senior national team’s primary playmaker resident at London Colney will give the youngsters a target to aim at right in front of their eyes - a target that will likely play the peak years of his career at his new club.
That’s the level all three of them in some capacity should be aiming to achieve one day and with Arsene Wenger as their professor, they have the perfect creator to make them in Ozil’s image. By bringing in a record-breaking signing and deviating from his organic development policy, Wenger may have played a masterstroke - these three young guns may well hit the peak of their powers at the club over the next decade and potentially long after he's gone.
Which youngster do you believe Ozil will have the biggest effect on?
image: © tjuel