Thierry Henry was not far wrong when he suggested that nullifying the threat from Mesut Ozil was key to stopping Arsenal. Perhaps that is why, then, Barcelona attempted to unsettle a player by leaking reported interest to the press earlier this month.
Reports in Germany claimed Barcelona were ready to make a move to sign the former Real Madrid man in the summer and had already opened talks with the Premier League outfit. It is a similar tactic used in the past with the 2006 Champions League final being overshadowed by their interest in Henry while Cesc Fabregas became the subject of their desire in the build up to their 2010 showdown.
That is, of course, assuming that those reports from Germany, released earlier this month, were not leaked by Ozil's representation, rather than the media spinners at Camp Nou. According to Goal, there is a feeling within the Emirates that the information is now being used in ongoing contract talks with the German playmaker.
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Come the summer, there will be just two years left on the 27-year-old's contract making it the natural time to extend it. He signed a club-record £140,000-a-week deal upon joining from Real Madrid in 2013, but Arsenal's revenue has increased markedly since then. As a result, he is reportedly vying for a £200,000-a-week deal, putting him on par with the Premier League's highest earners.
It has been suggested that Ozil's representatives have paid homage to Barcelona's interest in recent discussions and may be using it to try and panic Arsenal into offering a bigger deal than they were originally willing to.
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Few Arsenal fans would deny that Ozil is worth that sort of money. With 17 assists in the Premier League this season, he has well and truly rediscovered the Midas touch after two indifferent campaigns. In fact, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to suggest he is playing the best football of his career.
However, Arsene Wenger will likely be aware of the repercussions of handing out such a huge contract, especially as the club are also talking to Alexis Sanchez, who will undoubtedly be looking for a very similar deal to that of Ozil.
Chance to shine
Both of them will be able to prove their worth to the Arsenal hierarchy on Tuesday as they are likely to be the focal point of the attack against Barcelona. While much has been focussed on the Spanish club's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, there is still every chance of Arsenal breaching what has, at times, been an indecisive Barcelona defence.
A good performance against Luis Enrique's men and perhaps that tentative and questionable interest in a transfer will become fully formed.
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