Mesut Ozil has had somewhat of a resurgence under Mikel Arteta but with less than 18 months remaining on his current deal, Arsenal are going to need an eventual replacement for the 31-year-old.
As we scout for a replacement for Ozil, the fact that Arsenal haven’t featured in the Champions League since 2017 shouldn’t be a problem. Playing for the North London club remains an attractive proposition for any player but with the recent club-record arrival of Nicolas Pepe for £72 million, funds may be a little limited in comparison to previous summers.
Completing 89% of his passes, Ozil will always come out on top of that category. The German has played 18 Premier League games this season, averaging 1.1 completed dribbles P90, 22.2 final third passes and 1.0 big chance created. Statistically, Ozil remains Arsenal’s most creative player and so, the parameters used to find his successor are as follows:
Completed Dribbles P90: 1.1
Final Third Passes P90: 21.07
Big Chances Created: 4
Pass Completion Average: 81%
Giving ourselves a £35 million budget, here are four potential replacements for Mesut Ozil.
Although Mikel Arteta still likes to play a possession-based game, the Spaniard is far more direct than his predecessor Unai Emery and that is why completed dribbles P90 is an important stat when scouting for Ozil’s successor. Averaging 1.4 completed dribbles in the Eredivisie, Kokcu is slightly above the average that we’re looking for, whilst he has also created five big chances.
With an 84% pass completion and an average of 18.0 final third passes per game, Kokcu is a standout candidate here to play as Arsenal’s No. 10 behind one of Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. And with a market value of €14 million, Feyenoord midfielder Kokcu is well within Arsenal’s price range.
While the Eredivisie is not the Premier League and represents a clear jump in quality, the Dutch top flight is also home to a whole host of promising youngsters at the moment, and Kokcu is one of them.
Lorenzo Pellegrini of Roma has a reported release clause of €30 million and Arsenal would need to react quickly given Manchester United, Juventus and Everton are all showing an interest in the Italy international.
The 23-year-old averages 1.4 completed dribbles P90 and has created an impressive 13 big chances. With a pass competition of 81% in the league, Pellegrini rarely loses the ball in a passing sense, an important attribute to retaining possession in Arteta’s side. Pellegrini (22.2) is ahead of Kokcu (18.0) in terms of final third passes and with 13 chances created, Pellegrini would appear to create more and at a higher level, too.
So, Jonathan David doesn’t meet all the parameters that we set. However, the Canada international would offer an alternative to what Ozil does, despite playing a similar position at Gent. Operating as their No. 10, the 20-year-old has been a revelation in the Jupiler Pro League this season. Adding to his 12 goals and six assists last season, David has scored 18 and created seven goals in 27 games for Gent this season.
Looking at his stats in the Europa League, he makes just 10.5 final third passes per game and has created no big chances. However, we only have a small sample size to analyse. With a passing completion of 75% and a goalscoring threat from the No. 10 position, at a market value of €20 million, Jonathan David would prove to be a smart acquisition for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal if they’re looking for that something different.
It would be wrong to look for a successor to Mesut Ozil without looking to see what Germany has to offer and with Kai Havertz being well out of Arsenal’s price range, Nadiem Amiri of Bayer Leverkusen would offer the next best thing.
Averaging 1 completed dribble P90, Amiri is just below the benchmark we set. The Germany international has a creative outlook, creating six Big Chances in the Bundesliga, though falls short of the 21.07 final third passes (16.6), but he is the closest to Ozil in terms of passing competition with 85%. This could be down to being in a team with Kerem Demirbay and Kai Havertz, who are the more creative players at Leverkusen.
Whilst his pass completion (78%) is far lower than his competitors, Giorgian De Arrascaeta of Uruguay and Flamengo makes for an interesting proposition. Last season the 25-year-old scored 13 and created 14 in 23 Serie A games for Flamengo, averaging 2.5 completed dribbles P90. The Uruguayan averages 26 final third passes per game and he also created 20 big chances in the Brazilian league last season.
Viktor Tsyhankov of Dynamo Kiev averages 1.2 completed dribbles P90 but the problem here for Arteta is that Tsyhankov isn’t typically a No. 10, instead operating on the right side.
It’s difficult to pick a successor to Mesut Ozil because in truth, there aren’t many No. 10s remaining in football with the tactical game always evolving.
At 19, Orkun Kokcu of Feyenoord would prove to be an interesting candidate looking at the stats and he’s an addition that would excite fans, but if they want a player with more experience and someone who could make an instant impact, they should be looking at Lorenzo Pellegrini - if they can get him.