Mesut Ozil has spoken of his excitement ahead of his Arsenal debut having completed his £42.5m deadline day transfer from Real Madrid.
The 24-year-old is currently on international duty with the rest of the Germany squad as they prepare for their World Cup qualifiers against Austria and the Faroe Islands, but he has taken the time to speak to his new club about the prospect of playing at the Emirates Stadium.
Speaking to www.arsenal.com about his move, Ozil said: “It feels really good. I’m really looking forward to the challenge, life there [in London] and [meeting] my team-mates, the manager and the fans, as well as the Premier League. I’m really excited. It’s a perfect decision for me and and I’m looking forward to it all.
“A lot of players have developed under his guidance in the past and that’s why I decided to join Arsenal. I want to improve myself further and I’m looking forward to the style of play.
“Arsenal are well known for the strength of their technical game and their desire to play attacking football. I think I will fit perfectly into that. That’s why I chose to sign for the club.”
The north London side – and particularly manager Arsene Wenger – have come in for criticism in the past few years for their lack of ambition especially in the transfer window, and the sale of stars such as Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie appeared to be the signal that the club were no longer the force they once were.
But Wenger remained defiant that the ambition and hunger to succeed remained, with the promise of a “world class signing” finally being fulfilled on the final day of the transfer window with the signing of the attacking midfielder.
Ozil made it clear that he wouldn’t have joined the club had the ambition to win not been there. “That was very important,” he admitted. “The most important thing is that the manager has given me his trust. I want to show my potential and have fun on the pitch. I think that I can help the team through my performances.
“Arsenal are one of the technically strongest teams in the world. The manager always wants to play attractive and attacking football. I think I fit into that because I enjoy playing quickly - that ’one-touch football’. I’m happy to be part of the club and I hope I can help the team.”
Ozil joins fellow German internationals Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker at the Gunners, as well as youngster Serge Gnabry, who has featured at youth level for the same country and has promised a lot already according to Wenger.
But Ozil admits that he didn’t consult the duo about the move, stating that there wasn’t enough time to with the move being rushed through before the 11pm deadline.
“Unfortunately not,” he said when asked if Podolski and Mertesacker has talked him into the move. “It all happened so fast. I spoke to the manager a lot on the phone and he presented his vision and what he thinks about me. That convinced me and that’s why I am now at Arsenal.”
He also believes that the current squad is more than capable of delivering the much needed trophies to the expectant Emirates crowd, and admits that he values his eye for an assist – no other player has more assists in Europe than Ozil over the past five years – over his ability to score.
“Definitely,” he claimed on the potential to win trophies. “In the last few years, Arsenal haven’t been so successful but we want to become more successful. We want to win trophies. I think the fans are looking forward to that too. We have a very strong and a very young team that can improve a lot under the manager. I think we will win trophies because we have the potential [to do so].
“It [assists] leads to success and I’m the sort of player that likes to create goals. I think a lot of my team-mates know me as a player who is not selfish. It makes me very happy when I create goals or score goals myself. But the most important thing is that the team reaches its goal and plays positive football.
“I’m happy to be playing in the Premier League because everyone knows it’s the strongest league in the world,” he added. “There are simply a lot of top teams. I want to prove myself there. It’s a new challenge for me, a new task. I’m looking forward to that. I want to improve further under the boss and in the team. I’m really excited about it.”
The club-record signing also explained how he developed his natural ability into becoming one of the best number 10’s in the world, stating ‘Affenkafig’, or cage football, as the way he learnt to play in such a technical manner.
“Because the pitch was so small,” he explained. “Most of the time, I played against people that were five or six years older than me. At the time I was not that tall. I had to establish myself against older and stronger people.
“We didn't have any corners. The game always went on. This helped me to improve my technique a lot. That definitely made my life easier for the future. I think you can see on the pitch that I'm technically gifted.
“I've said recently that my idol was Zinedine Zidane because for me, he was the perfect player. He was good in the air. He was strong defensively and offensively. He was my idol. He had hardly any negative headlines including in his private life. He was a role model for me.
He finished by leaving a message for Arsenal fans that have already had quite a week with the 1-0 victory in the north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday.
“I’m so happy to be playing at Arsenal. I’m honoured by it. I hope we can have a successful season.”