Mesut Ozil right to ask Arsene Wenger to spend at Arsenal
Mesut Ozil's recent call for reinforcements at Arsenal for next season might be construed by some as a warning shot for manager Arsene Wenger and the board.
It wouldn't have been the first time the club's best player has called for transfer market activity. Both Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie expressed similar sentiments before they left, but in this case it's more about common sense than anything else.
While Wenger and those who sit at the Emirates top table would be well advised to pay attention to what he's saying, there's no implied threat here.
The German international is simply expressing a point of view that most people would consider reasonable for a team that looks like it's going to end the season without a trophy.
Of course, a miracle could happen. Leicester could find the pressure too much and collapse, and with a good run of form it's not mathematically impossible for the Gunners to win the league, but it seems highly unlikely at this point.
Come the summer, departures are inevitable. Players like Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky are at the end of their contracts and will be allowed to leave. Some may look at the experienced duo and think Arsenal aren't missing much when they go, and if you only take into account what they can offer at 34 and 35, respectively, you may have a point.
Taking a slightly different perspective, however, you'll be looking for the club to replace the qualities these players had at their peak. The metronomic passing of Arteta in his first few seasons played a major part in stabilising a club which had lost Fabregas, the fulcrum of the team. Injuries and age caught up with him more quickly than he would have liked and more rapidly than Wenger expected, but what he brought to the midfield was hard to replace.
There are signs of it in Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian is a mobile, energetic player, but he provides the same kind of outlet as Arteta used to. He's almost always available for the ball and uses it simply and economically. He seems to work quite well with Francis Coquelin too, but this is certainly an area of the pitch where reinforcement rather than simple replacement would serve Wenger's team well.
Rosicky, meanwhile, shares qualities with Jack Wilshere, another player who has been missing all season and over whom question marks are inevitable because of his injury record. The ability to burst between the lines, cracking open packed midfields and defences, is something both these players possess and something Arsenal have missed throughout this campaign.
Elsewhere there are doubts over Kieran Gibbs, who has started just three times in the Premier League this season. He's fallen out of the England reckoning because of his lack of action, and if he sought to move on, it wouldn't be a surprise at all.
Mathieu Flamini is likely to be another midfield departure, highlighting the need for additions in that area, and goalkeeper David Ospina surely won't be content sitting on the bench for the majority of another season. That's five players out of the 25-man squad already. For some, the best kind of reinforcement the club could make is a new manager, but unless something extraordinary happens between now and May, there's no question that Wenger will be the man in charge next season.
It's gone beyond the point where he can change the minds of those who would like to see a new boss, but what he does in the summer might at least provide renewed optimism in the team, if not the Frenchman himself.
If he can bring in that striker that's so badly needed, that would go a long way to addressing some of the team's issues too. If Karim Benzema was the £50 million man who was never a genuinely realistic target last summer, candidates like Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are not impossible ones for a club that could be sitting on cash reserves of £200m when the end of year accounts are submitted.
If Wenger is also willing to show some ruthlessness with some of the incumbents who have underperformed -- and not for the first time either -- and at least try to replace them with more productive players, he'll win back some of the doubters.
Ultimately, if Arsenal finish in the top four once more, with the title going to an unlikely and unexpected source, the need for reinforcement is blindingly obvious.
As such, Ozil's comments should be taken at face value and no more.