All of transfer deadline day revolved around one man. Mesut Özil.
Before the weekend it was inconceivable to think that the German star would be playing anywhere other than the Spanish capital. Sure, names from the club were being flaunted around in the news with Angel Di Maria, Fabio Coentrao and Karim Benzema among the list of players who could depart. Then on Sunday before Arsenal’s crucial fixture against rival Tottenham Hotspur, there were reports that Özil was feeling unsettled, this just two days after he had told the Spanish press that he was determined to fight for his place in Madrid. 24 hours later, he was jetting toward the English capital destined for a new adventure with the Gunners. So the question is, how did all of this happen?
The main sport in the United States, where I come from, is American Football. In American Football, trades are not half as frequent as a player transfer in European football, and for this reason, the media generally spends time speculating on players and coaches attitudes rather than obsessing over the endless transfer possibilities. In Europe, it’s the other way around. There are pages on massive media outlets such as Goal, The Sun, Telegraph and many others strictly dedicated to transfer rumors. Deciding whether any of these rumors are true or not are up to the reader.
Back to Monday’s events. If you asked an average Madridista which three or four players they thought were indispensable, you would get the following answers: Ronaldo, Casillas, Ramos and Özil. Xabi Alonso and maybe Pepe would closely follow suit, but the core of the team is lead by those four individuals.
So after the arrival of Isco and his subsequent brilliant form in the opening matches in La Liga, reporters began to dish out thoughts on the future of Özil, and whether or not he had a place in the starting XI. The first reports were that he was unsettled, but determined to fight for his future, and on Saturday, the rumors died down. But on Sunday, with Arsenal up against a rival who had spent over 100 million pounds in the transfer window, the English media started to speculate on a move that would send the German international to the Gunners for a stunning amount of money. Did the story have any legs? Judging by the responses of both Özil and his teammates in Madrid, no. My best guess is that Arsene Wenger had no idea that Özil wanted out or even made an inquiry into the matter before the first reports came out on Sunday.
After Arsenal’s win, fans of the club had heard the reports and were desperately pushing for the move, which was reportedly priced at 45 million euros. Reports emerged late in the evening that the two clubs were in advanced talks, followed by stories that the Gunners were going to rap up the double sale for both Ozil and Di Maria.
On the morning of deadline day, Marca reported that Ozil had rejected the English club and would stay in the Spanish capital. Goal reported the same story at about 10 AM, before running this article in the late hours of the afternoon confirming the switch.
During Gareth Bale’s opening ceremony at the Bernabeu, fans chanted at Fiorentino Perez to not sell their star attacking midfielder, before Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa both made comments on their shock and disappointment at their teammate and friends departure. Cristiano Ronaldo also made his feelings known when the Daily Mail reported in this article that the Portuguese stud was upset at the chairman for moving Özil out to Arsenal.
All of this relates back to the media and the crucial part they play in the transfer window. At any moment a reporter could either tip insider information or generate his own story about any player for any club. Two examples of teams buddying up with media outlets come from Spain, where two of the main media sources, Marca and Mundo Deportivo are based in Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Every summer, these papers launch outlandish claims about their teams interest in players, such as the David Luiz saga this summer. An article this summer reported that David Luiz had told boss Jose Mourinho that he wanted out in favor of the Catalan club. Chelsea were quick to quell the rumors as false statements generated by the newspaper, one of the many Spanish publications with an infamous past with the former Real Madrid manager Mourinho.
As a reader, these reports can bring you happiness or despair, as it might mean your club may buy a superb player, or ship one of a similar quality within the week. As a reader, you have to check both the reporters and the publications, to know the full scoop of what may or may not occur. It’s only been two days, and rumors are starting to swirl ahead of this winters transfer window. At this point, I can only imagine what will happen next.