Who could forget Mesut Ozil’s move to Arsenal in the September of 2013? It had everything anyone could ever want from a transfer.
Arsene Wenger made the first hint that something special could be on the horizon during his post-match media duties following Arsenal’s 1-0 home win over rivals Tottenham. The day after was deadline day and Wenger was grilled on whether the Gunners had anything in store.
“We may have a surprise for you”, the Frenchman said with a cheeky grin. What a surprise it was, a Real Madrid superstar arriving in the final hours of the window tasked with taking Arsenal to the next level.
The transfer was greeted with partying in the streets of Highbury by some of the Gunners faithful; that’s how highly they viewed Ozil and his mercurial midfield abilities.
Ten years on from a deal that at the time stunned the Premier League, Mirror Football sat down with Ozil’s agent Dr Erkut Sogut to discuss the transfer, the fall-out and how Arsenal signing a player with the profile of the World Cup winner changed the landscape of mega-money moves.
“It was a long process, it took months and months,” Sogut explained. “Arsenal are one of the biggest clubs in England with a huge history and then Mesut has a huge reach on social, put those things together and it isn’t all about the football it is also about things off the pitch.”
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Ozil’s representative added how the fact his client was such a global figure did factor in to his eye-watering wages in North London.
He added: “That’s why Mesut, at times, earned more than any other player at the club, because he brings so much off the pitch and football is more commercial today, that’s what some people don’t understand – they ask why a player is earning more but that player has 100million followers which is good for the club.”
It may seem unfathomable to some fans that clubs often factor in the level of profile and platform a player possesses – but that is a reflection of the modern game, according to Sogut.
He explained: “Social media changed the way things work in football. Of course if a player has 100million followers on social media from all over the world, that’s a great opportunity for the club to tap into that and if that same player has a Nike boot deal, it’s also good for them as they want to sell product.
“A player with a great brand behind can open new markets for the club. Players are becoming more important, we will soon not talk anymore about club leagues, but player leagues. These players attract fans from different parts of the world.”
In Ozil’s case, his time at Arsenal came to a close without a happy ending. Having been omitted from the Gunners 25-man official Premier League squad, the playmaker took to Instagram to accuse the Gunners of lacking loyalty.
Sogut has admitted that the last few months of Ozil’s seven-year stay at the Emirates were challenging on the assist maestro.
“It is always difficult when the player is not playing, especially a player on the scale of Mesut Ozil – he was the hero a couple of years ago, and then a few years later you’re not even in the squad so it is not easy for a player to be in that situation and it is not easy for me as an agent.
“You want the player to be happy and you want the club to be happy, it makes things more difficult but you also have to be professional, it is what it is. The most important thing is to respect each other, to look each other in the eyes despite the difference of opinion.”
Sogut did go on to state how this is what happened and quashed any speculation that there is still lingering ill-feeling from Ozil’s camp towards Arsenal.
“This is what happened in the end, I had a really good time solving the issue with Edu, we worked quite professionally, made an agreement and everything was very good. I couldn’t say anything bad about dealing with Arsenal, it was the sporting decision of the coach.”
“I learned a lot and yeah if you go back you could say there were things we should have done differently.
“It wasn’t easy for Mesut, though he is a strong player that has so much experience, he has seen so many things in life but is a human being like any other. I think it made him a lot stronger in the end, going through that process.”
Find Dr Sogut’s new book ‘Remember My Name’ here.