Mesut Özil says preference is to sign new contract with Arsenal

Crystal Palace sign Jaïro Riedewald from Ajax and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan

Mesut Özil: keen to keep his options open as he moves into the new season. Photograph:  Dylan Martinez/Reuters .

Mesut Özil: keen to keep his options open as he moves into the new season. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters .

 

Mesut Özil says that his preference would “definitely” be to sign a new contract at Arsenal. The midfielder has entered the final 12 months of his £140,000-a-week deal and, in the absence of offers from any of the European clubs who could meet his wage demands, he is set to stay at Emirates Stadium for the upcoming season.

The bigger issue has been whether Özil will re-sign at the club he joined from Real Madrid for £42.5m in 2013, with one of his options being to wait until January 2018 to see whether he gets a lucrative pre-contract offer from an overseas club relating to a free agent move in the summer.

Arsenal, though, have worked hard to put forward an attractive deal of their own, which is worth a basic £280,000 a week. So far it has been a waiting game, with Özil keen to keep his options open as he moves into the new season.

“It is definitely my preference to stay,” Özil said, at Arsenal’s launch of their new third kit in Sydney. “It is such a great club and I have always said that I feel very good at Arsenal. Once everyone is back in London, we will sit down and discuss about the future.

“For now, the most important thing is our pre-season and getting through the tour, training and getting fitness. When I’m back in London, we will sit down and discuss.”

Özil also commented on the situation of his team-mate Alexis Sánchez who, like him, has entered the final year on his contract. Unlike Özil, though, Sánchez has elite-level suitors – with Manchester City chief among them.

“It would hit the team quite hard if he left because he’s a player who always delivers,” Özil said. “It would be a setback to winning the title but, in the end, it’s the player’s decision. I hope Alexis stays but I don’t know what the status is, to be honest.

“I value him a lot as a player and he’s very well suited to the game Arsenal play. From a personal view, I’d really appreciate if he stays. But it’s the player’s decision after all and there’s not much more I can comment on that.”

Versatile defender

Netherlands defender Jaïro Riedewald is set to be reunited with his former manager at Ajax, Frank de Boer, after reaching an agreement in principle to move to Crystal Palace.

The versatile defender, who can also operate as a holding midfielder, is expected to cost an initial fee in the region of £7.5m with further add-ons related to appearances and achievements.

Reports in the Netherlands suggest the Ajax director of football, Marc Overmars, has sanctioned the sale unless further interest emerges from rival suitors. West Bromwich Albion, Leicester City, Everton and Stoke City had all considered moves for the 20-year-old, who has three caps.

Riedewald, who was given his first-team debut by De Boer in 2013, will add to Palace’s defensive options, with the club having accepted they will not be able to bring Mamadou Sakho back to Selhurst Park, because of Liverpool’s £30m asking price. Scott Dann, who began last season as Palace’s captain, will remain at the club and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek completed a one-year loan move on Wednesday.

Corruption

The company that owns Leicester City and funded the club’s rise to become 2016 Premier League champions has been accused of multimillion-pound corruption in the operation of its business in Thailand. King Power, owned and run by the Leicester chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and his son Aiyawatt, is alleged to have corruptly short-changed the Thai government of its agreed share from the company’s lucrative duty free franchise at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.

King Power International, which owns Leicester, is accused of criminally failing to pay the Thai state 14bn baht (€370m) from the operation of the airport franchise, whose original grant in 2006 required 15 per cent of the income to be paid to the government. The lawsuit – a copy of which was seen by the Guardian – was filed by Charnchai Issarasenarak, deputy chairman of a government anti-corruption subcommittee. He alleges that King Power colluded with airport employees to pay the government only a 3 per cent slice of the duty free takings.

King Power bought Leicester City for a reported £39m in 2010, when the club were in the Championship, and then loaned the club more than £100m on players, wages and bankrolling losses, which were written off after the club won promotion to the Premier League in 2014.

Explaining the legal action to reporters in Thailand, Charnchai said: “We ask the court to accept this lawsuit as a criminal lawsuit, and use the law to punish those who commit wrongdoings. We also ask the court to consider seizing all the 14.29bn baht from them to the state. Nobody should ever gain [anything] from this said amount . . . This case causes substantial damages to the state and is a very severe case.”

Guardian Service