Arsenal's FA Cup final triumph gave Mikel Arteta one final reassurance that he has found his perfect midfield balance, with Mesut Ozil, or the type of player Ozil is, a long way from his plans, writes Pete Hall.
The intricate playmaker, one who centres their game around the most delicate of final passes is very much a dying breed.
A look at almost all of the top teams in Europe - Liverpool, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, even Barcelona - and their best XIs do not include the archetypal playmaker. These days it is more about high energy, intelligent movers - the Thomas Mullers and Jordan Hendersons of this world - and less about the more tiki-taka No10s - the Mesut Ozils - that even until very recently were some of the most sought-after players in Europe.
All you have to do is look at Philippe Coutinho's struggles to find a club, just two years after he became the world's second most expensive player. Coaches want effervescent, all-action midfielders like Kevin De Bruyne in the engine-room in 2020, or a more balanced setup with creativity coming from wide areas or from deep, like Arteta has created at Arsenal.
Mesut Ozil's style of play is not one that big clubs require in 2020
Image credit: Getty Images
The redemption of Granit Xhaka was complete as he put in another impressive showing against Chelsea at Wembley, representing quite the turnaround for a man who looked down and out as he reacted to the crowd booing him at the Emirates in October, but he could not have done it without his partner in crime, the best player on the pitch on Saturday, Dani Ceballos.
Ceballos and Xhaka's games work perfectly in tandem, with Ceballos afforded time on the ball to play his passes while Xhaka sweeps up. With Nicolas Pepe further ahead of those two, creating openings in wider positions, there is simply no need for a playmaker, like Ozil.
The three-at-the-back system has proven very effective for Arteta so far, and looks like it is here to stay. Ceballos then can sit ahead of the backline, and be the Gunners' orchestrator-in-chief, and it worked a treat at Wembley. With Alexandre Lacazette, the irrepressible Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pepe ahead of him, Ceballos has plenty of outlets to get Arsenal attacking faster than a playmaker perhaps would, with Ceballos' passes bypassing a position, to get straight to the front three. And it is working.
Keeping hold of Ceballos is increasingly becoming a key objective for Arteta, almost as imperative as ensuring Aubameyang remains in place to build his Arsenal revolution around. Ceballos is key to holding this more well-organised, fluid Arsenal system in place. Lose him, and Arteta could be back to square one, because it is not just his own performances he has improved, but the Real Madrid loanee has helped Xhaka turn himself from villain into hero in record time.
Ozil is never far from the headlines, whether he plays or not - his astronomical wages will always ensure that is the case - but Arsenal's recent resurgence has lead to fewer and fewer questions about whether the 31-year-old wants to seek pastures new. Ozil was even allowed to stay in Turkey on the day of the FA Cup final and, for a variety of reasons, he has not featured at all for the Gunners since the restart.
His place in the Arsenal team has come into question time and again, but now, perhaps more than ever, his position in the Arsenal formation is in fact becoming redundant.
Arteta has the close season to continue to revamp his plans, but having steered Arsenal to silverware and back into Europe, he appears set on a new-look system, and Ozil, regardless of form or even desire to play, looks set to remain left out in the cold.