'You Can't Buy Class. Arsenal Forever.'
So reads a banner hanging from the stands at The Emirates. Although meant to be a subtle message to opponents about the professional manner in which Arsenal conducts itself, the words can be turned into a negative as a way of describing Arsene Wenger's timid, and rather unproductive, approach to the transfer market in recent years.
Following the sensational signing of Mesut Ozil on Monday, Arsenal ensured that banner's message can no longer be misconstrued again.
The word 'class' can often be a confusing one in this sport, with the receiver of the word far too often left confused by its actual meaning from the one who delivered it.
"Oh he is such a class player," is a phrase often muttered by pundits, but this really tells us nothing about how good the player they are describing really is. Does this mean he is better than most? As good as he should be? League average?
When identifying a class system in soccer it is important to clarify what one actually means by such a description. Far too often in any sport, average (at best) players are called good and good players are described as great. This is why I close my eyes, grit my teeth and almost fall off my chair every time I hear a footballer described as 'world class.' And, by the way, it happens every week. In the last week alone I have heard Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye, Danny Welbeck and even Maxi Urruti described as 'world class footballers.'
Of course people are entitled to their own opinion and we do not all judge talent the same, but for me there is nothing beyond 'world class' standard for a footballer. It is the pantheon of great present day footballers, a group of players who have performed at the highest level on the biggest of stages, players who will be remembered when their careers are over as being some of the finest players to play the game.
In this fantastic sport there are many average players, even more good players, some very good players and then there are great players, the world class players who would be picked by managers all over the world if they were asked to pick a World XI today.
Of course there are examples of players moving up and down such class systems by virtue of form and injuries. Brazilian Kaka was once, without doubt, a world class star but hasn't been at that level for close to five years now. Wayne Rooney is another one who eighteen months ago would have been considered to be world class but, for me, is not there at the moment. However, unlike Kaka, he could one day be back to that level.
It can, of course, work the other way as well. Gareth Bale, who this week went to Real Madrid for a world record fee, has only reached world class status in the last year despite many pinning this on to him the moment he dribbled past Maicon a few times in Milan back in October 2010.
When Bale departed the shores of the United Kingdom late on Sunday evening many described it as a blow to the Premier League to lose a legitimate top star to La Liga. Little did they know, less than 24 hours later, the league would bolster its star appeal with Arsenal's signing of Ozil.
Ozil arrives in North London for a reported fee that is less than half the amount Tottenham received for Bale, but the German is certainly not half the player the Welshman is.
Transfers in 2013 are no longer given the time needed to be allowed to be assessed. Social media has created a giant ocean full of tweeters jumping in head first on the deal, with many today sinking to the bottom with shambolic, naïve comments on Ozil's value and whether or not Arsenal actually need him.
I usually prefer to give a player some time to get adjusted to their new surroundings, watch him closely in different scenarios to see how he adapts ,but in the case of Ozil to Arsenal none of that is necessary. Ozil is a world class player whose signature captured by Arsenal is enough to make Gunners think they are dreaming. They have found a true difference-maker, a star that plays at such a high level he instantly takes Arsenal fans back to the days of watching The Invincibles.
Footballing intelligence, a phrase underused in the game because it cannot be graded by watching highlights or reading statistics, is what makes Ozil so special. Rarely does he misplace a pass and if he does it's because he was thinking quicker than the man expected to receive the ball.
He thrives being the team's central creator, where he will be able to showcase his outstanding vision in the final third and, perhaps more importantly, on counter attacks which will most certainly often go through him. The Gunners won Sunday's North London derby because they were simply better in the transition game and already this season the majority of their goals have come from plays that have started deep in their own half.
Ozil's lateral movement will confuse many a Premier League defender and team-mates like Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott will all benefit from playing close to him each week.
For the first time in a long time this is not a 'let's wait and see how good he is' kind of signing for Arsenal fans. Ozil will be sensational for their team.
Five years ago on the club's official website, the top 50 Arsenal players of all time were revealed following votes by thousands of their fans. The truth is no current Arsenal player in the past five years has done enough to threaten a spot in that list. If they keep hold of Ozil for more than a year they won't just need to re-do the Top 50, they will need to change the Top 10.