It happened. It actually happened. I woke up this morning expecting to find it had all been a wonderful dream but no. We have actually signed Mesut Özil from Real Madrid.
This marks the beginning of a new era for Arsenal. This is the result of one of the longest forward thinking plans in football history. This is what was imagined when the decision to move to the Emirates and live off of the income the club itself generated was made. This transfer was not funded by some billionaire oligarch, or a member of an Arab royal family. It was funded purely by the club itself, and given the size of it that is incredible.
This transfer breaks three records, two of them Arsenal records. The fee of £42.5m is the highest Arsenal have ever paid for a player and the second highest fee a British club has ever paid. The transfer fee also makes Özil the most expensive German player in history and his rumoured wage of £140,000 a week, although some are saying it could be even higher, is also an Arsenal record.
This was a statement of intent from Wenger and Arsenal. They have almost tripled the club’s previous record transfer fee, and bought a player José Mourinho has described as “the best number 10 in the world”. Özil is certainly one of the world’s top 10 players, has far better stats than the likes of Fabregas and even Iniesta, and is probably Arsenal’s biggest signing since Bergkamp. That is how important this transfer is.
Özil was not exactly an outcast or misfit at Real Madrid. He made over 150 appearances in his three years at the club, and during the presentation of Gareth Bale after his world record transfer fans chanted “don’t sell Özil”. We have just signed a player who was a regular for Real Madrid. Just take a moment to let that sink in.
A huge point to come out of this transfer is the importance of Arsène Wenger. Özil said after the deal was announced how important working under Wenger was in making his decision, and it has emerged that he even turned down a higher wage at the French champions PSG to come and play under Wenger. He spoke about how he wanted to develop as a player and how Wenger was the best man to help him do that.
Another point is the importance of Per Mertesacker in particular, but also of Lukas Podolski. Both are national teammates of Özil and both are widely reported to have had a big impact in persuading him to join, with Podolski actually welcoming Özil to Arsenal when he arrived for his medical. But Mertesacker would appear to have had the biggest impact, as he was Özil’s captain at Werder Bremen (and according to some reports could be at Arsenal very soon), and the pair of also thought to be good friends. Both of Arsenal’s senior German players seem to have had a big say in persuading Özil of Arsenal’s ambition, something that he himself spoke of when announcing the signing.
Özil is an incredible player, truly world class. He spoke of wanting to “help Arsenal win titles”, and I am now far more confident that we can do that. The excitement from Arsenal players on Twitter said it all.
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