Monday 23 October 2017

Bale facing a frosty welcome as Real stars slam Ozil sale

Gareth Bale, left, and Real Madrid President Florentino Perez - there is reported unrest among Real Madrid players at the sale of Mesut Ozil
Gareth Bale, left, and Real Madrid President Florentino Perez - there is reported unrest among Real Madrid players at the sale of Mesut Ozil

Pete Jenson

Real Madrid's decision to sell Mesut Ozil to Arsenal has sparked a backlash from the Spanish club's most senior players.

Cristiano Ronaldo was quoted in 'Diario AS' as having told Portuguese team-mates he was "angry" with the sale of the player who "best knows his movements on the pitch".

Gareth Bale's arrival from Tottenham is already having its effect off the pitch, with broadcaster MediaPro close to announcing that it will move the kick-off time of the former Tottenham player's first Clasico on October 27 to midday, to target the Asian market.

But on the field, the positives of his arrival have been overshadowed by it forcing the sale of the popular Ozil. At Spain's Las Rozas training camp on Tuesday, Sergio Ramos said Ozil was the "last player" he would sell if it had been up to him. And there was similar discontent from France international Karim Benzema and from German team-mate Sami Khedira.

But it is Ronaldo's mood that will most concern Madrid. Ozil was the Portuguese's greatest ally on the pitch. Nobody has contributed more assists to Ronaldo's 202 goals in 202 appearances.

Ozil was a rarity in the dressing-room as somebody who got on well both with the Portuguese contingent and with the Spanish players, and his exit will make Bale's introduction on September 11, when he returns from international duty with Wales, more difficult. Ronaldo avoided welcoming Bale in July when he said: "I have my opinion, but I am not going to share it."

Jorge Valdano, Real Madrid's former sporting director under Mourinho, said last week he would prefer Ozil to Bale, while Germany coach Joachim Low said yesterday: "It's hard for me to understand why Real Madrid have let him go." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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