Five potential replacements for Mesut Ozil


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:



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.



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.



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.



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.




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.


Leicester City vs Arsenal: Match report


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.

Hull City vs Leicester City match report


during the Premier League match between Hull City and Leicester City at KCOM Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Hull, England.

Hull City put their off field nightmares behind them as they made the dream start to their Premier League campaign. The Tigers beat champions Leicester City 2-1 at the KCOM Stadium with Robert Snodgrass thumping home the winner. Mike Phelan’s men perhaps taking inspiration from their adversaries using their underdog status and nothing-to-lose attitude to collect a valuable three points.


The final whistle saw Hull huddled up, rousing one another, while Leicester lurched off to cross examine their opening day defeat.


Hull, perhaps liberated by how low expectations have been set, attacked Claudio Ranieri’s side making life uncomfortable for The Foxes from the first whistle.


However the Premier League new boys had to ride their luck throughout with early season rustiness still an issue for Leicester’s two key men – Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, the current PFA Player of the Year looking particularly laboured in his creative efforts. Vardy, an assassin in front of goal last season looked more like a spray-and-pray merchant at the KCOM as he wildly swung at a Ahmed Musa cross before blazing over from ten yards after Musa again did supremely well to create the opportunity for the England forward.


Hull rode their luck further still with Christian Fuchs’ effort well saved after the best move of the match saw the full back exchange a pair of one-twos before driving into the penalty area but lacked finish the move so desperately deserved.


The home side grew in confidence as their fans roared like the tigers which adorn their shirt badges spurring on their much troubled side.


Adama Diomande provided Hull with great attacking intent as the forward combined hustle and bustle with pace and directness giving the often solid Leicester back line fits.


The first goal of the new Premier League season came in acrobatic fashion in the dying embers of first half injury time when Curtis Davies’ header was brilliantly saved by Kasper Schmeichel before both Abel Hernandez and Diomande pulled out the kind of synchronicity that the Olympic divers would be proud of. The air attempted a bicycle kick with both strikers getting a piece of the ball before it flew past the hapless Dane in goal. Confusion and controversy in the Premier League and the season was only 45 minutes old.

Hull surrendered their lead just one minute into the second half when Mahrez converted a controversial penalty. Demarai Gray was brought down clumsily by Tom Huddlestone but the foul appeared to have occurred outside the box. Nevertheless Dean pointed to the spot and the Algerian coolly dispatched the kick the pull the champions level.


Parity was restored for only ten minutes however. A poor throw out by Schmeichel saw Gray robbed of possession and more slack concentration from the ensuing cross saw the ball drop to Robert Snodgrass who let off a left-foot rocket into the bottom corner leaving Schmeichel rooted to the spot. Mike Phelan celebrated wildly on the touchline and strengthened his case to be named the full time manager – although he chose his words very carefully post match.


during the Premier League match between Hull City and Leicester City at KCOM Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Hull, England.

The Champions looked discombobulated at the back malfunctioning more in one game than they perhaps did over than 38 match miracle marathon they embarked on this time last year. The visitors could have counted themselves lucky that they finished the match with 11 men as Fuchs, already on a yellow card from the first half, planted his foot on to Snodgrass’. Mike Dean played the advantage but did not flash a second card for the incident.


Ranieri threw on the hard working forward Shinji Okazaki to liven up his side who looked lacklustre being bullied by the more urgent home outfit but to no avail. Leicester huffed and puffed but failed to really trouble Eldin Jakupovic in the Hull City goal.


The champions looked less composed than usual and questions will be asked as to how much they will miss N’Golo Kante and how will they deal with the pressure of being champions. The glum faces of Wes Morgan and company at the final whistle paint a picture of a team who had just woken up from the dream.