Both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are currently in contract discussions and all the rumours are that one, or both, of them will leave Arsenal.
Many people are speculating if they do leave, where their destinations will be with Ozil linked with a return to Real Madrid whilst Sanchez could return to Italy, but with Juventus. I obviously hope both renew their contracts but if they were to leave, who would Arsenal miss more?
The arrival of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid on deadline day in 2013 was heralded as the dawn of a new era for the north London club. No longer were Arsenal a selling club who were struggling with their hefty stadium debt, now they were a financial superpower who could compete on the world stage. The signing of £42m Ozil was hailed a masterstroke as the German was one of the most sought after players in Europe. When he first joined the Gunners he started well but then seemed to fade as the 2013/14 season went on. Rumours of unrest in the city and television coverage of him leaving the field well before everyone else after Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph sparked intense speculation that he would be leaving after only one season in the Premier League. Ozil duly put all rumours to rest though when he took to social media to reaffirm his commitment to Arsenal and to the fans, stating that he had much more to give to the Premier League. Since then he has become an integral part of the Arsenal machine. Recording assist after assist and, this season, adding more goals to his game. Ozil, now 28, is improving all the time and in the next season or two will reach his peak. The task now is for manager Arsene Wenger to convince him to give those years to Arsenal.
Alexis Sanchez signed a season after Ozil in 2014 from Barcelona to much fanfare. The press seemed less surprised by this signing as, whilst Ozil appeared intrinsic for Real, Sanchez was waiting behind Lionel Messi, Neymar and the newly arriving Luis Suarez. He was looking for first team football and Arsenal offered him it, whereas Arsenal needed a player with steel and drive. The fit was perfect and the ensuing seasons have proved successful for both club and player.
If a player was to leave though, which one would be missed the most? Ozil was a watershed moment for Arsenal, a signal to the rest of Europe that they could finally compete to sign the big boys. Since then he has improved the team and has assisted those around him. He has been accused of going missing sometimes in the really big or especially physical games but his overall contribution is exemplary.
Sanchez has been an important player for Arsenal as well. His engine and enthusiasm is infectious and there seems a bit more tenacity about the Gunners lately (excluding the second half of the City game anyway).
In my opinion Ozil is the more important of the two. His contribution to the team as a whole is greater and when he’s not in the game Arsenal clearly miss him more than Sanchez.
The prevailing opinion, above all of this, is that Arsenal would be lost without their two best players. Whilst I undoubtedly agree they certainly are Arsenal’s biggest players in terms of their profile, I take issue with them being the best at the club. For me Santi Cazorla is the best technical player, Olivier Giroud is the best goal scorer, Laurent Koscielny has the most heart and desire.
So whilst both Sanchez and Ozil are very good, they are by no means the best the Gunners have.