On deadline day in the summer of 2013, Arsenal signed a generational talent.
That isn't a sentence we can say too regularly when it comes to the Gunners. On countless occasions, they have let the club's supporters down in the market but when they broke their transfer record by £27.4m seven years ago, the hierarchy took the plaudits.
That's because they'd signed a player from Real Madrid, a world-class one nonetheless. His name? Mesut Ozil, of course.
The German walked through the door of London Colney in September 2013 for a fee of £42.4m, signalling Arsenal's ambitions and ending a consensus that Arsene Wenger wasn't prepared to spend big.
He'd gone out and signed undoubtedly the best playmaker in world football at the time. Ozil racked up 80 assists in only 159 outings for Real Madrid, establishing a fearsome partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Some of the things he did with a ball during his time in Spain defied belief. From creating goals with the outside of his foot to sliding through passes with his heel, Ozil was, and still is, a terrific player.
During his best season in Madrid - 2011/12 - he provided 28 assists for his teammates. Therefore, the excitement surrounding his arrival was completely vindicated.
Once all is said and done, Ozil will go down as one of the finest number 10s to play the game. He could find space within the tiniest of crevices and pick out passes like no one else.
However, with the need for creators in his type of position now dwindling, the 32-year-old's career has witnessed a considerable drop-off.
That being said, it's not because of Arsenal's system or the way world football has progressed in recent years that has been the biggest source of his decline. Unfortunately, it's the way he's been treated and alienated by the club's hierarchy, as well as Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta.
Controversy has engulfed Ozil like the very pandemic that surrounds the world right now, and he is always a talking point. When he doesn't play, questions are asked. When he does, more questions are thrown into the mix. The story is always about him.
It feels like a broken record, but unfortunately for Ozil and Arsenal, their story will likely end in 2021 as a sad breakup. He has not been included in the Gunners' Europa League or Premier League squads and it would appear that his last game in the famous red and white has already been played.
Considering his wages and talent, it feels like a waste of precious resources.
This is someone who has become the highest-paid player in Arsenal history, a man who because of his salary and what he's cost the north Londoners is vilified on a regular basis.
Transfer fee: £42.4m
Salary from 2013-2018: £140k-a-week, £7.28m a year
Salary after contract extension: £350k-a-week, £18.2m a year
Total wages since signing: £74.4m
Accumulative spend: £116.8m
Cost per goal: £2.6m
Cost per assist: £1.5m
Cost per game: £459k
The sums above do enough to raise eyebrows. The transfer fee itself has been vindicated with his performances but since penning a £350k-a-week contract in 2018, the signing of Ozil has become one of KSE's biggest disasters since walking into the football club.
During that season, Ozil could easily have left Islington behind, but instead, he showed his loyalty to the club, something he was quick to reiterate in October. After responding to the way he'd been left out of the Premier League 25-man squad, he said: "Upon signing my new contract in 2018, I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated. As I have just found out, loyalty is hard to come by nowadays."
Good PR or not, the German playmaker clearly feels hard done by. Who can blame him, either? Ever since he started being left out of the squad, a clear and concise reason hasn't been issued.
Arteta even seemed to take the blame on himself. "My job is to get the best out of every player to contribute to the team performance," the Spaniard explained. "At the moment I feel that I have failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team."
This, however, feels like the Arsenal manager may be covering the club's back. The fact of the matter is that Ozil hasn't had the chance to contribute since March.
Funnily enough, in his last three Premier League games, he has scored once and also assisted a goal so it's hard to argue that he doesn't offer anything. To add to that, he also recorded more key passes per match than any other Arsenal player in 2019/20.
With that in mind, it's dumbfounding that he hasn't even found his name on the squad list for the current campaign.
Conspiracy theorists will continue to preach their arguments. Is he not in the squad because of comments he made about China? Quite possibly.
In 2018, a BBC investigation revealed that around a million people - mostly from China's Muslim Uighur community - had been detained without trial in high-security prison camps.
Ozil criticised China as a result, and it received quite the backlash. The attacking midfielder was removed from Chinese copies of Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 and Arsenal's clash with Manchester City that week was banished from TV schedules.
Arsenal distanced themselves from the statement but even after that, Ozil continued to play. In fact, after his remarks in December, he played in ten straight league matches. For that reason alone, it's hard to picture that those comments are the sole reason he's not playing.
Could it be down to the finances? Potentially. Ozil refused to take a pay cut alongside the rest of the squad when COVID hit because he felt it was 'rushed' and that not 'enough details' had been given.
Lo and behold, 55 members of staff were made redundant anyway and then when Arsenal revealed they'd got rid of the man behind mascot Gunnersaurus, Jerry Quy, Ozil said he'd pay his wages.
The midfielder still hasn't played since, and it's now got to a point where it feels as though his tenure at Arsenal will be debated even after he's left the club.
For now, he is contracted until 2021 but that feels like it will finally be the end of this toxic love affair.
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