The Manchester United boss has revealed he was not interested in bringing the German to Old Trafford, but do the stats suggest he should have?
This morning, the British press had a field day with David Moyes’ revelation that he turned down the chance to sign Mesut Ozil last summer.
It was something that has long been hinted at, but the Manchester United manager has finally confirmed he was offered the mercurial German, but said no.
“We had people like Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney, who were similar. Adnan Januzaj can play that role in time, when he’s older. So it wasn’t quite what we required at that time. We were looking at different positions.
“I didn’t say there was an interest. It had been put to us and it was just something we didn’t need at the time.”
The one phrase that jumps out from the quotes is “at the time”, which Moyes says three times in just seven sentences.
Perhaps it is simply a linguistic habit. Then again, it could be a suggestion – conscious or otherwise – that now Moyes could very much do with Ozil in his squad.
After all, a quick glance at the Premier League table suggests that ‘at the time’ and ‘now’ are two very different things.
But was Moyes right to put his faith in Rooney and Kagawa rather than fork out for the man now starring for Arsenal? In short, what do the stats say?
In eight league starts and one substitute appearance this season, Rooney has scored five goals and provided three assists. His pass completion is 78.5% and he averages 1.8 key passes per game. Not surprisingly, his long-ball success is impressive, playing an average of 4.7 such passes per match.
Kagawa has fared less well, making just two league starts and one appearance from the bench. Without a goal or an assist, his pass completion is 88.2% and he averages one key pass per match. The Japanese play-maker’s long-ball success is just under half that of Rooney’s at 2.3%.
Januzaj has been the star of United’s early campaign, and in time there is little doubt he is going to become a very special player indeed; but what of his current contribution?
The Belgian winger has made three league starts and appeared three times from the bench. In that time he has scored twice and provided one assist. His pass completion is 81.6% and he has an average of 0.7 key passes per game. He also successfully plays 1.8 long-balls per game.
So that is the league performance of United’s men. How about Ozil?
The German has made seven league appearances for the Gunners thus far, scoring two goals and providing four assists. His pass completion is 87% (1.2% less than Kagawa although the former has played far more games).
Ozil averages 3.1 key passes per match (considerably higher than any of the above United men) and he averages 2.1 successful long-passes per appearance.
Stats can tell you whatever you want them to, but while Rooney has scored more than double the amount of league goals Ozil has managed, the England striker trails in many of the other areas.
When the cups are handed out at the end of the season, Moyes and Arsene Wenger will know who made the better decision. But if a player is measured in how he transforms a club, Ozil and Rooney are competing ahead of the rest.
After all, without them, both United and Arsenal would be considerably less than they currently are.
image: © Ronnie MAcdonald