After the signing of Mesut Ozil, the talk in blogs and podcasts throughout the Arsenal world is about how the signing is ‘Arsene Wenger’s Dennis Bergkamp moment.’ The theory being that we have not signed a truly world class player since Dennis Bergkamp, and that as with the signing of Bergkamp, it will see more top signings follow.
This is frankly not true.
Firstly, when we signed Dennis Bergkamp, he was no longer a world class performer. After finishing 2nd and 3rd in the 1992 & 1993 Ballon d’Ors respectively, he had gone backwards. His star had fallen.
A disastrous two year spell at Inter Milan led him to leave them for just £400,000 more than what they signed him for. Whilst he went on to become one of Arsenal’s greatest ever players, when we signed him, he was certainly an underperformer. He was not the world class signing that many make out.
Whilst Mesut Ozil has not had the easiest of times over the last 12 months at Real Madrid, his star as not fallen anywhere near as much as Dennis Bergkamp. Whereas many were begining to doubt Dennis Bergkamp’s talent when we signed him, Ozil’s talent is in not doubt. with even Jose Mourinho labelling him as the best number 10 in world football.
The 2nd Dennis Bergkamp myth is his signing lead to the floodgates opening and many more world class players following him through the door. This was just not true.
Dennis Bergkamp signed nearly a month after David Platt had joined the club. No more transfers were made that year, in times before transfer windows. The next season, Arsene Wenger’s 1st, the transfers were as follows:
Not a single world class player amongst them. And in 1997, the year of the double, things were no better:
Luis Boa Morte
These types of transfers would be the stock of Wenger’s transfer’s. A mixture of talented youngster, and senior players who had become out of favour / injured / unknowns. What is certainly true is that the signing of Dennis Bergkamp did not attract any world class talent to the club.
Whilst there are many comparisons between the signing of Bergkamp and Ozil. I do think we look back at Bergkamp’s through rose tinted, hindsight glasses. Were we really that excited? Or were we moaning we had signed a washed-up home sick Dutchman who can not fly?
For me, the signing of Mesut Ozil is bigger then that of Bergkamp. He is a truly world class player. And with the finances we now have, his signing should open up the floodgates of further world class players wanting to join Arsenal.
The signing of Mesut Ozil is not Wenger’s Dennis Bergkamp moment. It is bigger then that.