Mesut Ozil signs for Arsenal in a €50m transfer from Real Madrid
London club shatter transfer record for midfielder, goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano joins on loan from Palermo
Germany international Mesut Ozil has signed for Arsenal from Real Madrid. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Arsène Wenger has given Arsenal’s supporters the statement signing that they have craved with the €50m (£42.5m) purchase of the attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, a move that has nearly trebled the club’s previous highest outlay on a player. After a long summer of expressing his confidence that a big name would arrive and the club’s increased financial firepower would claim a prize, Wenger raided Madrid for a player that he has long admired.
Ozil becomes the third most expensive signing in British football history, behind Fernando Torres, who joined Chelsea from Liverpool for £50m in 2011, and Carlos Tevez, who cost Manchester City £47m. He has agreed a five-year contract, which is worth a basic £150,000 a week, with bonuses on top. The 24-year-old underwent his Arsenal medical in Germany on Monday, where he is preparing with his national team for the World Cup qualifier against Austria on Friday.
In some respects, the signing, which was completed about half an hour before the deadline, served to rescue a testing transfer window for Arsenal. They had previously looked to A-list strikers, namely Gonzalo Higuaín, Luis Suárez and Wayne Rooney only to fail to entice any of them while a loan move for Chelsea’s Demba Ba broke down close to the deadline. Chelsea were reluctant to loan Ba to a Premier League rival.
To onlookers, a top-class centre-forward had been Arsenal’s priority followed, in no particular order, by a defensive midfielder, a centre-half and a goalkeeper. A midfield playmaker had appeared to be further down the wish-list but the opportunity to sign an international like Ozil does not come around very often and Wenger duly authorised the move, even if the fee might have gone against his natural instincts.
Arsenal’s previous record signing was Andrey Arshavin at £15m from Zenit St Petersburg in 2009. The attacking midfielder was released on 30 June upon the expiry of his contract.
Wenger had said on Sunday night, after the 1-0 derby win over Tottenham Hotspur, that he was prepared to pay “a bit over the market, as long as it is not crazy” and he has stretched to make an extremely exciting signing. Ozil is the king of the assist – he has 72 over the past five seasons – while his technique and smooth passing style mark him out as a fans’ favourite. At Gareth Bale’s unveiling as a Real player on Monday afternoon, the crowd had chanted: ‘Don’t sell Ozil.’
Wenger’s interest in Ozil dates to 2007, when the player was at Schalke. He would move to Werder Bremen in 2008 and make a significant impression upon the English conscience in 2009, at the European U21 Championship final, when he orchestrated Germany’s 4-0 destruction of England in the final. Ozil starred for the senior Germany team at the 2010 World Cup and, although Wenger tried to sign him that summer, he moved to Real for €15m.
Ozil has had his reservations about the switch to Arsenal and only last Wednesday, he said that he would be staying at Real. “A lot has been written about other teams but I have the coach’s confidence and I feel good,” he added. “It’s a pleasure and an honour to play for Real Madrid.” When he joined Real, he had said that it was the one club a player could not refuse while he subsequently spoke of possibly ending his career at the Bernabeu.
He was talked round, however, by Wenger, after also realising that his chances in attacking midfield stood to be restricted at Real. The Spanish club have not only signed Bale this summer but, also, Isco from Málaga to supplement their existing options. Manchester United and Paris St-Germain had monitored Ozil’s situation over the previous days but it was Arsenal who acted decisively.
Wenger had already signed the striker Yaya Sanogo and the former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini, both as free agents, and he added the goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano on a season-long loan from the Serie B club Palermo earlier on Monday. The 27-year-old, capped six times by Italy, spent last season on loan at Fiorentina, where he kept 11 clean sheets in 32 Serie A appearances. He has been signed to provide cover and competition for the first-choice Wojciech Szczesny.
Wenger said: “Viviano is a player that we have rated for some time and we are very pleased to have signed him on loan. He’s experienced and has proved himself at a high level, and provides us with excellent cover to our existing goalkeepers.”