Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal agree fee for Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

By Jack de Menezes

Arsene Wenger insists he is confident of adding quality to his squad before the summer transfer window closes despite tonight’s 11pm rapidly closing in, with Arsenal in advanced talks with Real Madrid over a move for midfielder Mesut Ozil.


Wenger’s additions to date remain the free transfers of French striker Yaya Sanogo and former AC Milan midfielder Mathieu Flamini, who made his return to the Emirates in yesterday’s 1-0 victory over arch rivals Tottenham having forged his career with the Gunners.

However, reports claim that the north London club have agreed a fee with the Spanish club for Ozil after they finally completed their pursuit of Gareth Bale, although whether or not the move broke the world-record transfer fee of £80m remains to be clarified with both clubs suggesting different figures.

Wenger has already missed out on his top transfer targets of the summer, with Gonzalo Higuain leaving Real for Serie A side Napoli – coincidentally drawn alongside Arsenal in the Champions League – Luis Suarez remaining with Liverpool and Luiz Gustavo rejecting a move to London in favour of Wolfsburg.

Arsenal have also been linked with Ozil’s current teammates Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria, but the Frenchman’s agent dismissed any move and claimed that talks over a new contract had begun while the Argentine wouldn’t fulfil the type of player Wenger appears to be chasing, especially with Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla making impressive starts to the new campaign.

They have also been linked with Palermo goalkeeper Emiliani Viviano, although a third clean-sheet this season for Wojciech Szczesny yesterday will have boosted his confidence further and likely swayed Wenger to stick with his current shot-stopper.

Wenger is hopeful that the completion of Bale’s deal will cause a domino effect in sparking a flurry of transfer activity that will see Arsenal benefit from new faces, and he hopes to “surprise” fans with a big signing later today.

"Tottenham got a lot of money for Bale, they have to invest it - I understand that," Wenger said. "The need is different for us, we need one or two super players and we will try to add that.

"It is a little bit like a domino game. Maybe something will happen in the last 24 hours, maybe not. It is very difficult to predict, but maybe we can surprise you."

Wenger remains defiant not to spend for the sake of spending though, despite having a reported £70m transfer kitty at his disposal after chief executive Ivan Gazidis made the rather peculiar announcement of the club’s spending power earlier in the summer.

"I am not against spending,” claimed Wenger. “I am ready to pay what we can afford, even if it is a bit over the market (value) and as long as it is not crazy.

The 63-year-old Frenchman also moved quickly to dismiss any fears over Jack Wilshere, following the midfielder’s withdrawal after 43 minutes at the Emirates on Sunday, confirming that he was replaced due to a stomach bug rather than injury and should be available for England’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Friday.

"He has a stomach bug, but nothing that will stop him from playing for England," said Wenger, who also named right-back Bacary Sagna on the bench due to a similar illness but was forced to bring him on in the dying minutes as Arsenal fended off Spurs’ best attempts to score a late equaliser.

Wenger admitted that he believed his sides spirit was enough to see off a Spurs side containing seven new signings, with Andre Villas-Boas’ spending of over £100m dwarfing the Gunners’, who are yet to spend a penny.

"This team has lost one game since March in all competitions. You don't do that with an average spirit," Wenger said.

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