An ambitious player and an ambitious club

Mesut Ozil’s record signing is certainly a coup by Arsene Wenger. The German is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world and with his best days possibly still to come, writes Andrew McDermott.

The summer transfer window was dominated by critics questioning Arsenal’s lack of new signings but by the time the deadline had passed the general consensus was Arsene Wenger had secured the best new arrival in the English Premier League.

Gunners’ fans looked set for more frustration when moves for Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Yohan Cabaye all failed to materialise but the London club was finally able to land a big-name signing in Mesut Ozil to add to the free transfers of Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini and a loan move for Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.

The 24-year-old became the Gunners’ club-record signing having undergone a medical in Munich, where he was on international duty, in a deal reported to be worth GBP42 million.

The signing is certainly a coup by Wenger, with Ozil widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world and with his best days possibly still to come.

Born in Gelsenkirchen in Germany to Turkish immigrant parents in 1988, he grew up playing football on a gravel pitch surrounded by a fence, meaning the action never stopped.

Ozil easily stood out as a talented player, even when up against older boys, and joined the youth set-up at Schalke in June 2005. The following August he made his Bundesliga debut against Eintracht Frankfurt and soon got his chance at the international level, scoring on his debut for Germany Under-21s against Northern Ireland in 2007.

Talks over a new contract at Schalke broke down and he switched to Werder Bremen at the start of 2008 on a three-year deal for a reported fee of 4.3m euros.

It was in 2009 that his career really took off. In February, any hopes Turkey might have had of Ozil playing for them ended when he made his senior Germany debut against Norway.

Three months later, Ozil scored the only goal as Bremen won the DFB Pokal final against Bayer Leverkusen. Bremen also reached the UEFA Cup final, but were beaten 2-1 after extra-time by Shakhtar Donetsk.

English fans got their first real glimpse of Ozil’s talent in June when he inspired Germany to victory in the European Under-21 Championship, scoring two and setting up two in the 4-0 win over England in the final.

He also helped dump the senior England team out of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 as he starred in Germany’s 4-1 win on way to the semi-finals. Ozil earned a place in FIFA’s ‘Team of the Tournament’ as well as a move to the Spanish giants, Real Madrid.

Nominations for the Ballon d’Or followed in 2010 and 2011 and he helped Madrid beat Barcelona for the Copa del Rey, although Barca were crowned league champions.

With things going well in the Spanish capital, Ozil revealed in an interview in February 2012 that he hoped to stay at Real for the rest of his career and the feel-good factor continued as Jose Mourinho’s men cruised to the Primera Division title with a record number of points and goals.

The arrival of Luka Modric increased competition for Ozil for a place in the side but the German still made 31 league appearances during the 2012-13 season as Real finished behind Barcelona, who regained their crown.

The situation changed this summer, though, when Ozil’s first-team options at Real suddenly looked more limited after the club completed a world-record 100m euros deal for Gareth Bale.

During Bale’s unveiling at the Bernabeu, fans chanted, “Don’t sell Ozil”, but their pleas fell on deaf ears and just hours later Ozil’s move to Arsenal was confirmed.

The transfer was greeted with anger and frustration by fans and team-mates alike, but for Ozil, the chance to play for Wenger was a big factor in his decision to choose the Gunners.

“I am thrilled to be joining a club of the stature of Arsenal and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League,” he said.

“It will be great for my own personal development as a player and I am particularly looking forward to working with Arsene Wenger. From our negotiations it is clear the club has huge ambition and I look forward to being part of an exciting future.”

Arsenal fans will certainly believe the future looks more exciting with Ozil at the club.

Ozil is not married but his girlfriend is German pop star Mandy Capristo.

* * * FACTFILE The player: Mesut Ozil Position: Midfielder Current club: Arsenal DOB: October 15, 1988 International caps: 48 International goals: 14

Moment to remember: Named in FIFA’s ‘Team of the Tournament’ after starring at the 2010 World Cup.

Moment to forget: Sent off in a Supercopa match against Barcelona in August 2011 after clashing with David Villa.

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