It’s absolutely critical Arsenal avoid a return to the not-so-distant past when a flow of star players decided to leave the Emirates in pursuit of titles thought to be unobtainable in north London.
Of the Gunners current roster there are few whose exit would be more emblematic of this slide back into the dark times of Robin van Persie’s Manchester United defection, than that of record signing Mesut Ozil.
News that the German midfield magician has stalled over a new deal will therefore bring Gooners everywhere out in hives.
According to the Daily Mirror, the great hope for Arsenal is that Ozil will now be persuaded to drop his stance by Germany international teammate Shkodran Mustafi, with the £35m defender one off a flurry of Emirates arrivals this week.
Regardless of Mustafi’s powers of mediation, the question remains whether 27-year-old Ozil would be better off twisting or sticking, given the trophy hauls of those who chose to jump ship.
The case for staying
Ozil still has this season and the next penned in at Arsenal. In theory, only the present one is going to be under the stewardship of Arsene Wenger who has entered the final year of his latest contract, so as it stands the club are heading for a monumental crossroads.
So even if this season doesn’t pan out the way Ozil would wish, it may be worth seeing if regime change will alter the pattern of failed Premier League and Champions League pursuits.
If the likes of a Diego Simeone took up the reins, then that might hold huge appeal considering his exploits as Atletico Madrid manager in scooping La Liga and making separate European Cup finals.
Also, although Wenger has still copped criticism, he has actually invested quite substantially this summer on Mustafi, Granit Xhaxa and Lucas Perez, and these acquisitions could yet have a positive impact on the season underway.
The case for going
With Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea looking ominously strong under respective new managers carrying immense reputations, Arsenal have perhaps lost more ground in the title race than they had over the previous three years.
Gooners have rightly been lamenting the golden opportunity missed by Wenger’s men last season when the establishment crumbled and minnows Leicester seized their moment.
Europe is also a consistent source of disappointment for Arsenal fans, given their side has failed to breach the round of 16 in six consecutive seasons and runner-up spot remains their zenith (back in 2005/06).
Although Ozil has clutched a World Cup and La Liga in his hands, the former Werder Bremen man is yet to get his mitts on old big ears and barring a minor miracle, that dream still looks distant under Wenger.
Verdict: Go at the end of the season*
* Unless Arsenal win the Premier League or Champions League this season or Wenger actually leaves
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.