Mesut Ozil may have given the seal of approval to his replacement at Arsenal.
The playmaker has not featured for the Gunners in a competitive fixture this season after being left out of the Premier League and Europa League squads named by Mikel Arteta back in October.
And it’s almost certain that Ozil will leave Arsenal when his contract expires in the summer.
Having struggled offensively for large parts of the campaign, a lack of creativity within the squad lead to suggestions that the former Germany international would be given a recall at the end of the month.
However, with each passing game, Emile Smith Rowe is proving that he can be Arsenal’s heir to Ozil.
In fact, after impressing in the 4-0 win over West Brom on Saturday night, the exiled midfielder hailed the 20-year-old as the “difference maker” at the Hawthorns as the Gunners made it three victories in succession.
“Nice game my boys!” Ozil tweeted. “Great spirit – 3 wins in a row.
“Team looks good with a No10 like Emile Smith Rowe – the difference-maker.”
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) January 2, 2021
Interestingly, the Gunners have gone from potential relegation candidates to being six points off the top-four in the three games Smith Rowe has started.
Not only has his impact in the number 10 role turned the Gunners’ season around, his assists for Bukayo Saka against Chelsea and West Brom means he has already matched Ozil’s tally from last season.
Granted Ozil was in and out of the team under Unai Emery and Freddie Ljungberg prior to Arteta’s appointment, and then completely frozen out during ‘Project Restart’.
But for Smith Rowe to have matched Ozil’s total of two assists in just three appearances is further proof that Arsenal has already found the perfect replacement for the 32-year-old.
And they haven’t had to spend a single penny.
After all, Smith Rowe has learned from the best.
“I like to be versatile, and I can also play in other positions. But I probably would say I do enjoy playing in the No. 10 positions the most,” he told The National last year.
“At Arsenal, I look up to Mesut Ozil a lot. I watch him in training and the movement he has and the little touches he does. For me to train with him every day, I can’t think of anything better.”