Arsenal shattered their transfer record last night on a deadline day where they finally spent the money their fans had demanded – signing Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for a remarkable £42.5m.
It was very much Arsenal’s day as Arsène Wenger ended a summer of prudence – in which he had only made two free signings – with a huge deal for Ozil as well as signing Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano on loan.
Ozil, the German international midfielder, was announced as an Arsenal player at 10.30pm last night after signing a five-year deal. They paid Real – where Ozil had fallen out of favour – €50m for him, or £42.5m. That comes in at nearly three times the old record, which they paid Zenit St Petersburg for Andrei Arshavin in February 2009.
Ozil had joined Real Madrid from Werder Bremen in 2010, after his brilliant performance in the World Cup in South Africa. He played for three seasons for Jose Mourinho at Real, winning the cup and the league, but found himself squeezed out by the arrivals this summer of Isco, Gareth Bale and Asier Illarramendi.
“He is a great player, with proven quality at both club and international level,” Wenger said. “We have watched and admired him for some time as he has all the attributes I look for in an Arsenal player.”
“I am thrilled to be joining a club of the stature of Arsenal and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League,” said Ozil. “It will be great for my own personal development as a player and I am particularly looking forward to working with Arsène Wenger.”
Ozil was the second signing of the day for Arsenal, after they landed Italy international Viviano. The 27-year-old, who has six Italy caps, spent last season on loan at Fiorentina, having spent most of his early career at Brescia and Bologna. He is likely to come in as back-up to Wojciech Szczesny.
“Viviano is a player that we have rated for some time and we are very pleased to have signed him on loan,” Wenger said. “He’s experienced and has proved himself at a high level, and provides us with excellent cover to our existing goalkeepers.”
Aston Villa did succeed in upgrading their striking options with the permanent signing of Libor Kozak, the 24-year-old Czech striker from Lazio. Paul Lambert was delighted with Kozak, who he hopes will provide an alternative to Christian Benteke up front.
“Libor has an unbelievable scoring record in the Europa League, incredible really,” said Lambert. “He showed proper potential in leading the line there at a strong club with a great tradition.”
Villa were also successful in moving on some players who had fallen away from the first team. Stephen Ireland went to Stoke City to rejoin Mark Hughes, who managed him so well at Manchester City, while Barry Bannan joined Crystal Palace on a three-year deal.
Palace also signed defenders Jay Mariappa from Reading and Jack Hunt from Huddersfield. They went for Nicklas Bendtner from Arsenal but with Wenger failing to land another striker, Bendtner will stay in north London, while they also missed out on bringing back Andrew Johnson from Queen’s Park Rangers.
West Bromwich Albion spent a club record fee on Sunderland forward Stéphane Sessègnon, and also moved for Victor Anichebe and Lukaku up front. Steve Clarke’s side also signed goalkeeper Lee Camp for free and Morgan Amalfitano.
West Ham United wanted another striker as cover but may end up taking Carlton Cole back on a free transfer after releasing him earlier the summer Swansea City added another Spanish player in Alvaro Vazquez, on a season-long loan from Getafe.
Although Tottenham Hotspur did not sign anyone else yesterday, despite an interest in Ba and even Chelsea’s Fernando Torres, they did move two players on loan to QPR. Harry Redknapp, the Rangers manager who left Spurs last year, took Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Tom Carroll for this season, as well as former Spurs midfielder Niko Kranjcar from Dynamo Kiev.