Mesut Özil believes Arsenal can win Premier League
Former Real Madrid player defends himself from accusations of unprofessionalism
Mesut Özil of Germany says his new club Arsenal can win the league. Photograph: Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images
The German playmaker’s €50 million move on transfer deadline day was met with disbelief from several former team-mates at the Bernabeu.
Özil maintains it was the confidence of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger which proved vital in his decision to leave Madrid, when it became clear he no longer was central to the plans of Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti following the world-record signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham.
Reports in Spain have questioned Özil’s off-field behaviour. However, the 24-year-old has defended himself and insisted he would not let any unsubstantiated speculation affect his fresh start in London.
“I don’t want to say anything bad about Madrid because I had three wonderful years there. I have great friends there. We achieved a lot with the club and (won) trophies. That is why I don’t want to talk a lot about it,” Özil told a press conference. “People who know me know how professional I am and I think (in) the past years, you can see how many games I played - 159 games.
“If you are not professional in your life, then I don’t think you can play that many games. People know how professional I am and this is what counts. All the rumours, I don’t care about them. I have a new task here. I am just looking ahead.
“I am in London now. We have big goals here and we will work very hard to reach these goals.”
Özil added: “You can see by the reaction of the fans and the players that they didn’t understand the move, but this is football. You always have to look ahead and I have made the next step. My time there (Real Madrid) was great, but that topic is over.
“I will have wonderful years here (at Arsenal), hopefully I will win many trophies and stay healthy and this what I look forward to.”
Özil, who was part of the Germany Under-21 side which beat England 4-0 in the final of the 2009 European Championships, is in no doubt he has signed for a club and manager capable of taking his game to another level.
“I am in the strongest league in the world and have to prove myself here to continue developing here. This is why I am at the right club,” he said. “I cannot promise to win trophies, but I can promise that as a team we will give our all to win trophies.”
Wenger had long tracked the third-generation Turkish-German playmaker, and tried to bring him to Arsenal when he moved from Werder Bremen in August 2010.
Indeed it was a personal phone call from Wenger, on the eve of Arsenal’s win over Tottenham ahead of the international break, that proved pivotal to sealing the move.
“Arsenal is a very well-known club, a very successful club with very young players, and the young players develop very well here,” Özil said. “This was one of the reasons why I chose to come here, I want to continue to improve myself. I am really happy to be here under such a great manager.
“That was most important for us, what he (Wenger) thinks about me, what his plans are with me. I decided to come to Arsenal because I have the trust in this familiar environment.”
With Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky suffering a thigh injury on international duty, Ozil could be thrust straight into the starting XI at Sunderland on Saturday.
The German maintains he is ready for the hustle and bustle of the English top flight.
“Of course it is very physical here, but it is a man’s sport and I am really glad to play in the best league in the world,” Ozil said. “I want to prove myself in England, therefore I look forward to playing here. I also played in the Bundesliga and Spain and always proved myself. I know that I will prove myself here as well.”
Özil insists he will not let the huge price tag play on his mind.
“I would have come here without a fee, that wouldn’t have been a problem,” he said. “Of course I am proud of this (being Arsenal’s record signing), but the most important thing for me is that the manager trusts me, that I can get trust from him. This was the crucial point for me and this is why I have come here.”
Wenger is confident Özil will fit right in with the dynamic of his side.
“He has a style of play which can integrate with our style because we have a game which is based on movement, technical ability and creativity - he has all the attributes to be one of the leaders of our team,” the Arsenal boss said.