Seems a bit sad, doesn’t it?
Mesut Ozil spent seven and a half years at Arsenal. He wore the No. 11 shirt for five, until the club parted ways with Jack Wilshere on a permanent basis in 2018. Then Ozil took the No. 10.
Ozil and Arsenal have reached an agreement to have the contract binding the player to the club until the end of this season terminated with immediate effect, as reported by multiple sources, and the former Germany international is expected to be confirmed as a Fenerbahce player any day now. Plenty of people have been debating his legacy at the club and whether he’ll be missed, but some of his now former teammates have already begun discussing who gets the No.10 shirt.
Alexandre Lacazette wore 10 at Olympique Lyon but he got No.9 when he arrived to north London. Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang currently wears 14, and the pair of attackers exchanged a few comments on the subject on Instagram. But as David Ornstein nicely pointed out in his Monday column for The Athletic, the natural successor to the shirt could, and perhaps should, be Ozil’s natural successor on the pitch – Emile Smith Rowe, who currently wears 32.
But for a shirt number change to take place mid-season, Arsenal would have to apply to the Premier League board for special dispensation for the change, but there is apparently no precedent for it. The nearest thing that has happened lately is a permission to have squad numbers changed late in the summer, but that only with an obligation for the club to allow all fans who had already bought shirts with old numbers to exchange them for free. From an economical perspective, it doesn’t make much sense right now.
Ornstein also says that Arsenal are still in the market for an attacking midfielder this month, and any new signing would be able to take the No.10 shirt with no fuss whatsoever, pouring cold water over the expectations of the current players.
As for Ozil, this ‘debate’ about his shirt number seems to be a symbol of the way he’s leaving the club – through the back door, with many not sorry to see him go.
Again, seems a bit sad, doesn’t it?