Five possible Arsenal replacements for Mesut Ozil –

Five possible Arsenal replacements for Mesut Ozil –

It looks very much like Mesut Ozil will be leaving Arsenal this month. And although they won’t miss him as he’s not been playing, Arsenal continue to be linked with a number of Ozil-like replacements. We’ve had a look at five of the options…


Emiliano Buendia
“The players and the teams are the best,” Buendia said when asked whether he was targeting a Premier League return. “I aspire to be the best and work every day to get back to it, either in my team or through a transfer. Returning to the Premier in the short term is a dream.”

Buendia did caveat what must have been – for Norwich – a concerningly abject desire to return to the top flight by saying that he “belongs” to his current club and never has his “head outside the objectives”. But the comments more than hint that the Argentinian will be playing there by next season at the latest.

That could well be with Norwich, who are top of the Championship and are in a large part indebted to Buendia for that position. He’s scored seven goals, contributed six assists and created a staggering 56 chances at an average of just under three per game.

And Chris Sutton – with absolutely no former club bias – claims Buendia “owes it to Norwich” to see the season through because they “have made him”.

The Independent claim Arsenal are prepared to offer either Reiss Nelson or Joe Willock as part of a deal for Buendia, who has already proven his Premier League pedigree by finishing fourth for chances created last season on 83 behind Kevin de Bruyne (136), Jack Grealish (91) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (87). He even set a Premier League record by creating 29 chances last December, the most by a player in a calendar month on record.


Julian Brandt
Borussia Dortmund have given the green light to let Brandt leave the club in January. Some sources claim the German side are only willing to listen to loan offers, while others suggest Arsenal are targeting a cut-price permanent transfer of around £23million.

Considered to be cut-price because of his bonkers £62million valuation by Football Observatory, and the more reasonable Transfermarkt claim of exactly half of that. But, in reality, even £23million would be a significant risk.

After four impressive seasons with Bayer Leverkusen across which he scored 36 goals and contributed 43 assists, those numbers have dropped significantly having moved to Dortmund. And despite featuring in all but one of their 14 Bundesliga games this season – starting six of them – he’s registered just one assist and is yet to score a goal.

Dortmund’s transfer dealings under sporting director Michael Zorc have been characterised by quick business for outstanding young talent and the desire to get full bang for their buck for players targeted from elsewhere. The fact that he’s willing to part with a 24-year-old German international with over three years left on his contract, for significantly less than he’s supposedly worth, isn’t a great sign.


Emile Smith Rowe
Why take a punt on a grunt when you’ve got a homemade solution? Smith Rowe gave N’Golo Kante the runaround in the win over Chelsea and then conducted the dismantling of West Brom.

To buy a new playmaker now, just as Smith Rowe is on the cusp of properly establishing himself in the Arsenal team, would be a bit of a slap in the face. Big money foreign additions are always ‘given time to adapt’; so too should an academy graduate. Given the time and money the club have already invested in their development, the likes of Smith Rowe should be given more of an opportunity if anything.

He and Bukayo Saka have already had to get their elbows in to fight through multi-million pound competition to get to the first team, and sometimes competition for places – billed by managers blocking young players and blocked young players alike as a welcome chance for them to prove their worth – can actually be more of a disheartening influence than a motivational one.


Carlos Soler
Arsenal have been linked with Soler since last spring, with Valencia’s current financial predicament making a potential £30million deal a tempting one for Los Che this month.

The 24-year-old has been in fine form, scoring five goals – including a hat-trick against Real Madrid – and laying on another four in his 12 La Liga games this season.

But the 4-1 win over Madrid is one of just three victories for Valencia this season, and whether a player of Soler’s ability is happy to stay at a club that looks as though it could be in a relegation scrap or not, the reported financial ‘dire straits’ could mean the decision is taken out of his hands. They won’t get Money For Nothing.


Houssem Aouar
Ligue Un clubs are also struggling financial after they were the only major European league to cancel the 2019-20 season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the added pressure of TV firms deferring payments.

Fellow Lyon star Memphis Depay has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona in this window and what the Daily Star described as a ‘cryptic transfer hint’ led some particularly wistful Arsenal fans to believe Aouar would be moving to Arsenal.

The 22-year-old French international retweeted this…

Firstly, ‘cryptic’ in football journalism parlance means something is so vague as to be very nearly totally irrelevant. And that is definitely the case here, with the suggestion presumably that because Aouar retweeted this message – which in itself is pretty cryptic evidence of Depay’s desires – he not only also wants to leave Lyon, but wants to join Arsenal.

“This can only mean one thing!” one Arsenal fan wrote, “This is pretty telling,” added a second delusionist. Like tribal monsters, all clubs have these sort of fans, but to class them as a subset of those online abusers would be incredibly unfair. There will likely be a significant crossover, but these dreamers bring joy to some through their hare-brained assertions and direct harm to no-one. They’re the Trump supporters drinking light beer from their coolers and shouting “‘Merica!” at passers by, rather than the Via Getty’s storming the Capitol building.

That was a convoluted way of saying Auoar is the unlikeliest on this list to be joining Arsenal in January.


Will Ford is on Twitter