The candidates to succeed Mesut Ozil as Arsenal's new number 10


Mesut Ozil’s move to Fenerbahce is edging closer by the minute and with the World Cup winner’s Arsenal career seemingly over, the famous number ten jersey is up for grabs.

The iconic shirt has been worn by some of the game’s greatest ever players, the likes of Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Pele, Zinedine Zidane & Wayne Rooney to name just a few.

When you think of Arsenal’s famous number tens, the first name that springs to mind for many is that of Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman, nicknamed the ‘Iceman’ arrived in the Premier League back in 1995 after a difficult spell in Italy but it wasn’t long before his incredible technical ability shone through.

Dennis Bergkamp – arguably Arsenal’s greatest number 10 | Getty Images/Getty Images

Since Bergkamp’s retirement in 2006 the number ten shirt at Arsenal has been worn by William Gallas (yes, you’ve read that correctly), Robin van Persie and Jack Wilshere, before Mesut Ozil was given the honour in 2018.

With the squad number now up for grabs, which current Arsenal player is worthy of taking on the mantle? 90min takes a look.

Emile Smith Rowe has provided two assists in his four Premier League appearances so far this season | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Having emerged of late as Arsenal’s midfield creator, the 20-year-old is, without doubt, a candidate to succeed Ozil as the club’s next number ten.

Playing in a role the German made his name in, Smith Rowe is tasked with being the link between the midfield and attack. His position suits the number perfectly and you could certainly argue his impressive displays of late have seen him go some way towards earning it, as well as a promotion from the lofty no.32 shirt

Already a fan favourite, you can’t envisage there being too many complaints if he is the next in line.

Despite sustaining an injury just last weekend, Martinelli is in contention to face Newcastle United this evening | Julian Finney/Getty Images

From the day he arrived in north London, the 19-year-old Brazilian has been turning heads with his dynamism, determination and raw ability.

A knee injury ended his 2019/20 campaign prematurely but despite having appeared just 30 times for the Gunners, he has already managed ten goals and five assists. A player with huge potential and although he’s not a ‘traditional’ number ten, he’s a forward and another strong candidate.

Although we considered trying to shoehorn a third candidate into the list, the truth is, nobody else currently feels worthy. Handing the sacred number ten to the likes of Joe Willock, Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah or Willian even would feel like a form of betrayal. Had Bukayo Saka not been given the number seven shirt during the summer, he’d have certainly made the list.

New chapter..7️⃣? #BS7

— Bukayo Saka (@BukayoSaka87) July 23, 2020

The debate around who should succeed Ozil has been a hot topic in the Arsenal ‘twittersphere’ with many sharing their views.

Martenelli next season

— james o brien (@jimibounce82) January 18, 2021


— Lewis Pangratiou (@LPangratiou) January 18, 2021

A proper number 10, that’s means a new signing

— ⍨ (@ftblMohit) January 18, 2021

While both players selected undoubtedly have the potential to go on and have great Arsenal career’s, would the weight of the famous old jersey hold them back or inspire given their lack of experience?

That’s something the club and management would have to consider when making the decision, but unless somebody else comes in, you needn’t look any further than those two.

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