Five potential replacements for Mesut Ozil

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Mesut Ozil’s future at Arsenal is just as unclear as fellow teammate Alexis Sanchez and manager Arsene Wenger. The German playmaker has been linked with moves to Turkey as well as a return to his homeland and even Manchester United have reportedly expressed and interest, which would bring with it a reunion with former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho.

 

Should Ozil leave Arsenal in the summer here are five potential replacements for the classy creator:

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5.

Mario Gotze

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Cost: £30m – £40m

Currently out injured with a metabolism problem, the scorer of the goal which crowned Germany world champions has many hallmarks of Ozil. Gotze is classy with a deft touch and the ability to spot passes which slice open opposition defences. Another hallmark he shares with his fellow German is his consistency – or lack of as it may be. Gotze failed to impress during his spell at Bayern Munich which lead to a reunion with Dortmund.

 

However, the German would offer almost a like for like replacement for Ozil. With the 24-year-old also keen to play in the Premier League he may well be wooed by Arsenal should they express and interest in the playmaker.

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4.

Ivan Rakitic

Club: Barcelona

Cost: £35m – £50m

The Croatian wizard made Barcelona tick in his early days at the Catalan giants but has since been wildly inconsistent and has fallen out of favour with Barca boss Luis Enrique. Rakitic offered a replacement for long-time metronome Xavi in the heart of the Barcelona midfield along with Andreas Iniesta. That alone speaks to how highly the former Sevilla man is rated.

 

Rakitic has been deployed in a deeper role in Spain but could easily push up the field and influence attacking play more. Arsenal is a club with many similarities to the Spanish powerhouses in terms of their style of play which would suit the Croat perfectly. His elusiveness in between the lines and vision often leaves defenders scrambling and attacking players licking their chops at the service he provides.

 

Rakitic may prove costly but with his pedigree at the top level he would almost certainly be worth the large outlay and with Arsenal making noises that they are ready to throw the kitchen sink at the Premier League next season they may be able to tempt the Barcelona midfielder to London.

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3.

Bernardo Silva

Club: Monaco

Cost: £55m – £75m

This guy is going to cost an awful lot. Silva is being courted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs and a bidding war could soon ensue.

 

With Leonardo Jardim’s side in vogue with young, exciting players strutting their stuff in both domestic and continental competition, Silva is just one of a handful of sort after players.

 

A classic number ten Silva has been highly praised by former Portugal great Deco, who believes the former Benfica product can be one of the world’s best. With the ability carve open a defence with his combination of exception dribbling and passing the young superstar is a difference maker for his current employers. If Manchester United, Real Madrid and other have their way he will soon be a difference maker for them, too.

 

The 22-year-old Portuguese playmaker has scored six goals to date as well as contributing seven assists this campaign as Monaco continue their charge towards the title.

 

Perhaps a wildcard for Arsenal with them no longer mentioned in the bracket of elite clubs when talking about Europe’s brightest youngsters going elsewhere. However, if they are willing to bid an extraordinary amount and pay the youngster extraordinary wages then they may just get their man.

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2.

Riyad Mahrez

Club: Leicester City

Cost: £35m – £48m

The Algerian made noises at the end of last season that he wanted to make the step up from The Foxes. However, then manager Claudio Ranieri convinced the playmaker to stay at least one more season to spur Leicester on their maiden Champions League campaign.

 

While the English champions have surprised many with their run to the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, their form in the league has been dismal – costing Ranieri his job. Mahrez has often looked disinterested during Leicester’s faltering title defence which could be cause for concern for any club interested in the Algerian’s services. However, much like Ozil, his ability should see perspective buyers overlook some of his inconsistencies.

 

At the start of the season Arsenal expressed an interest in the Algerian playmaker, as well as Barcelona, and it seemed to have turned his head. Should Mahrez leave the champions this summer he could well be a replacement for Ozil.

 

Mahrez is already acclimatised to the Premier League way of playing, technically gifted and with an eye for goal – as displayed during Leicester’s title run he may offer a slight upgrade over Ozil, who is often criticised for his lack of goals for Arsenal.

 

The 26-year-old has certainly see his stock drop from where it was this time last year. Leicester may not be able to command the same fee for the playmaker as they perhaps could have 12 months ago but would still get a handsome amount for their star player. Arsenal would probably be willing to pay the £45m it would take to acquire the Algerian.

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1.

Isco

Club: Real Madrid

Cost: £25m – £35m

 

The Real Madrid misfit looks set to leave the Spanish capital this summer with a number of potential suitors trailing the former Malaga midfielder. Falling behind Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the pecking order for manager Zinadine Zidane the frustrated Isco is desperate for first team action.

 

Arsenal would offer the diminutive Spaniard a chance to start games with a void left by Ozil as well as experience the Premier League and – perhaps – be part of a rebuilding process at The Emirates should Arsene Wenger leave the Gunners in the summer, or even if he stays.

 

Isco was heavily linked to Manchester City in 2013 before being tempted to Madrid. Clearly the Spanish international is open to plying his trade in England.

 

Isco may have his inconsistencies but that could be put down to him not getting a run of games in the Madrid team. What is clear, is that when he is on his game he beautifully links defence to attack and can open pick the killer pass which results in a goal.

 

His style of play is very comparable of fellow Spaniard David Silva. If he could replicate anywhere near the standards Silva has set in England then he shall be very well received indeed by Arsenal fans.

 

Weight of pass in the modern game is often overlooked but Isco has the class and technique to perfectly pick out runners without them having the break stride before firing into the back of the net.

 

The price tag may start to rise with rumours circulating that even Barcelona are looking to prize Isco away from their bitter rivals. Arsenal are certainly in the mix, however. A tug-of-war for the 24-year-old’s signature is a likely outcome – in the past Arsenal have often fallen away when the bidding wars start. They did manage to outmuscle Liverpool for the signature of Alexis Sanchez however, so perhaps the Arsenal hierarchy are no longer afraid to go toe-to-toe with other clubs to get their man.

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Five potential replacements for Alexis Sanchez

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Alexis Sanchez’s future is still in the air at Arsenal. The Chilean cuts an increasingly frustrated figure at Arsenal and while his manager Arsene Wenger dances to the tune of ‘He wants to stay’ the consensus is that Sanchez will be plying his trade elsewhere next season.

 

Should the former Barcelona forward leave The Emirates here are five potential players who could replace the dogged Chile frontman:

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5.

Anthony Martial

Club: Manchester United

Cost: £35m – £55m

A bit of a wildcard to start off with. With Jose Mourinho and Wenger’s open dislike for each other it is unlikely that Mourinho would want to sell a talented player to a rival. However, Martial is well out-of-favour with The Special One and could be offloaded this summer. Should Arsenal submit a bid which would recoup a lot – if not all – of what Louis van Gaal paid for the then teenager Mourinho may well be willing to part with the young Frenchman.

 

Martial offers directness, pace and can finish. He is still inconsistent Wenger will no doubt have patience with the former Monaco man and give him the love he looks like he needs.

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4.

Yannick Carrasco

Club: Atletico Madrid

Cost: £51m – £65m

Carrasco will cost a lot of money; the type of money Arsenal have never parted with. However, the Belgian is becoming a star under Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital. The winger has eight goals and four assists this season for Atletico.

 

An explosive winger who can play on both flanks, Carrasco causes nightmares for opposition full-backs who have a difficult time dealing with tricky wide man. Carrasco is still 23-years-old and can get better with the right nurturing.

 

Carrasco would bring with him the directness which Sanchez would leave behind. While the young Belgium international may cost a lot but the windfall Arsenal should receive for Sanchez, should he leave, would go a long way to bringing the Atletico Madrid winger to The Emirates. Having said that, with speculation over the future of Antoine Griezmann, Simeone will be more than reluctant to let two of his star men walk away in the same transfer window.

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3.

Mohamed Salah

Club: Roma

Cost: £30m – £40m

 

After failing to shine during his first brief stint in England with Chelsea Salah has gone on to light up Serie A with goals and assists galore. The Egyptian forward has 11 goals and eight assists this campaign and 27 Serie A goals in total since joining Roma in 2015.

 

Salah himself is still only 24-years-old, although in recent years he has felt like somewhat of a journeyman since his Chelsea move did not work out with stints at former club Basel and Fiorentina before finally settling in Rome.

 

The Egypt frontman has pace in abundance, can play with either foot and finish in a variety of ways. Arsenal are always looking for classy forwards and Salah has shown that he is certainly one of them. His eight assists and 60 chances created this term show he can pick a pick a pass also – perfect ammunition for Olivier Giroud, or maybe a new Arsenal forward.

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2.

Douglas Costa

Club: Bayern Munich

Cost: £22m – £30m

Douglas Costa is reportedly unhappy at Bayern Munich and is seeking a move away. Now at 26 the Brazilian is at a stage in his career where he needs regular games – which he is not getting behind Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

 

Costa tore Arsenal apart during their 5-1 hammering of the Gunners in the last-16 tie of the Champions League with trickery and pace that neither Hector Bellerin nor Nacho Monreal could handle.

 

Costa’s inconsistency is perhaps what drives Carlo Ancelotti to leave him out of the Bayern first XI but he certainly has the ability to get Arsenal fans out of their seats. Not as direct as an out and out winger, Costa is strong on both feet and can float inside to get involved through the middle as well as beating his full-back down the line.

 

With his unhappiness at Bayern and the German giants seemingly happy to offload the wide man Costa would probably be the cheapest option of the list – which would probably appeal most to Wenger as he is notoriously tight with the  purse strings.

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1.

James Rodriguez

Club: Real Madrid

Cost: £45m – £55m

 

James is maybe the most likely player to make his way to The Emirates on this list. Not so much because he is desperate to join Arsenal or Arsenal are desperate to take him, but because Real Madrid and the Colombian have made no secret about his desire to leave and Madrid’s keenness to offload him.

 

James is typically a number ten but can play out wide. His goal in the 2014 World Cup against Uruguay was the stand out moment that summer and announced James to the world stage – it is also a glimpse of what he can do in a split second.

 

If Arsenal part ways with the £50m sum the Spanish giants are asking for then they will be getting a player that will not hound and harass defenders like Sanchez will, but will give you quality in abundance when going forward. In order for the Colombian to succeed he may need, perhaps like Mesut Ozil, a world-class holding midfielder who will pick up his lack of work ethic.

 

The former Monaco man has the flair that Arsene Wenger loves in a player and the technical quality which the Arsenal boss also looks for in his attacking players. He can float between the lines exposing the gaps in midfield and defence which can carve teams apart.

 

 

James is a different type of player to Sanchez – perhaps more in line with Ozil’s style of play but his quality cannot be denied and if Sanchez leaves Arsenal must replace him with quality – and James is certainly that.

Leicester City vs Arsenal: Match report

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during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Arsenal at The King Power Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Leicester, England.

Leicester City and Arsenal played out a tense 0-0 draw leaving both teams still searching for their first win of the season. Mark Clattenburg was the centre of attention at full time after failing to award a penalty to Ahmed Musa after Hector Bellerin fouled the striker in the box.

 

Both teams had chances to win it in the second half with England duo Jamie Vardy and Theo Walcott both having their efforts thwarted by great defensive interventions.

 

The King Power Stadium rocked with chants of ‘We know what we are, champions of England.’ as the side traded jabs in an opening 20 minute stalemate.

 

Arsenal saw a lot of the ball early on but Leicester were content to defend with nine men behind the ball. The visitors often worked the ball out wide only to look up and see no sign of their burly centre forward Oliver Giroud. Only deemed fit enough for the bench, ‘He is still behind physically’ said Arsene Wenger in his pre match comments – how Arsenal will be desperate for him to get up to speed quickly.

 

Alexis Sanchez continued with his role as the lone striker for Arsenal and looked very isolated throughout often coming deep to receive the ball and get involved with play.

 

It took 25 minutes for the game to throw up its first half chance as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cut inside from the left hand side and hit a shot which whistled past Kasper Schmeichel’s goal.

 

Santi Cazorla almost caught the Danish keeper out as his free kick evaded everybody but he displayed the cat like reactions we come to expect from somebody barring such a name to push the ball wide.

 

Arsenal restricted to shots from distance failing to break down the wall of blue parked in front of their attacks.

 

Leicester grew into the first have with Jamie Vardy hassling Koscielny and Holding but the Arsenal back four looked much more composed with their French defender returning to the heart of defence.

 

The game suddenly burst into life in the closing stages of the half. Riyad Mahrez played a delightful ball to set Jamie Vardy free, Petr Cech smothered the effort loose ball fell to Danny Drinkwater who went down under a challenge from Koscielny before the ball was scrambled away. Mark Clattenburg waved away the penalty protests and the debate still could not be settled by the trio in commentary.

 

Leicester looked to grab the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half with much more attacking intent with Petr Cech seeing the ball more often than he would have liked to. Mahrez tested the former Chelsea shot stopper with a wicked free kick with the Algerian’s influence on the game growing with every minute.

 

Still Leicester asked questions of the Gunners pressing high and winning the ball in the final third drawing rapturous applause from the packed out home support and their Italian manager on the touchline.

 

Leicester almost made the visitors pay for their sluggish play with 20 minutes to go. Andy King stole the ball in the Arsenal half for Vardy to run on to. The England striker pulled the trigger only to see the excellent Koscielny streaking in to block the attempt with some superb last ditch defending.

 

With that huge let off Wenger duly made his first two changes with Ozil and Wilshere introduced for Cazorla and Xhaka. Still no sign of Giroud although it seemed desperately obvious that they needed him to relive Sanchez of centre forward duties.

 

Giroud was finally introduced with 15 minutes to play and freed up Alexis Sanchez to operate in the wider positions.

 

Both teams pushed for a winner with just ten minutes to go. Theo Walcott spun and let a shot rip from 12 yards only for Morgan to throw his body in front of the effort.

 

Arsenal began taking the game to Leicester with Sanchez looking much more comfortable out wide with Giroud taking up responsibilities through the middle. Ozil helped pick up the tempo of an often lifeless Arsenal attack but the Leicester door stayed shut.

 

Mahrez almost won it for the home side after breezing by the Arsenal midfield and defence before his shot was hit straight at the sprawling Cech in the Arsenal goal.

 

While only the second game of the season the clash had a tense feeling with both teams content with a point.

Wenger’s Biggest January

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LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 21: Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal gives the thumbs up during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

After their hard fought 2-1 over Manchester City on Monday night Arsenal sit in second place –  just two points off the summit of the Premier League. The last two times Arsenal won the league they sat in second on Christmas Day.

 

In the most wide open title race since the inception of the Premier League Arsene Wenger has his biggest chance to add to his three Premier League titles since his last one in 2004. With current champions Chelsea enduring their worst ever season since Roman Abramovich took over, Manchester United in their own turmoil under Louis van Gaal and Man City being inconsistent Arsenal are the one of the so called ‘big four’ putting up a consistent chase for the trophy.

 

Many still believe that Leicester City do not have the staying power to win the whole thing but the more they continue to perform the more you have to believe that they can indeed go all the way. Arsenal will have to match pace with this unexpected juggernaut and now Wenger faces his most critical January.

 

Wenger’s victory over Pellegrini was made even more impressive that he had to do it without the services of: Alexis Sanchez, Sani Cazorla and Francis Coquelin – three of the key components to Arsenal’s success so far this season. Wenger now has an opportunity to strengthen his side in January ahead of his players returning to fitness. The Frenchman has hinted that he may seek short term options with the danger of Cazorla being out for the season and with Danny Welbeck no closer to fitness.

 

To search for the short term option seems strange when discussing a coach who has always been about the long term. In this instance in particular Wenger has an opportunity to capitalise of some of his rival’s stock being down. In previous January windows Wenger has always been reluctant to buy. The logic being that it is very hard to embed a player midseason. The last time Wenger really went for the kill at the turn of the year resulted in him signing Jose Antonio Reyes – who never really caught fire in London but helped Wenger, and the rest of the Arsenal team, achieve the unbeaten season of 2003-04.

 

The biggest advantages that Arsenal hold over Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester side is that they have the financial muscle and the cache to attract the biggest stars. Ranieri has proved that does not necessarily equal success with him getting the best out of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez – who cost the club a total of £1.4m – but the Gunners have the power to attract instant difference makers with established reputations and add depth and quality to an already high calibre squad.

 

Manchester United look to be the only team to spend as heavily as they did in the summer. However it is not unlikely that Chelsea or Man City enter the market to add to their ranks. Leicester may face a bigger fight to keep stars names rather than attract them. Arsenal will still have to compete to get the players in but the task could be made easier with their rivals faltering.

 

Wenger has the theory that getting players back from long term injuries: Danny Welbeck, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla – if indeed he returns – are like new signings. But the theory has fallen flat in the past, Wenger needs to bring in some fresh blood and give himself the best chance yet to bring home a fourth Premier League title.