Jose Mourinho coy on Mesut Ozil move
Jose Mourinho has refused to rule out a move for Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, whose current contract at the Emirates is set to expire in the summer.
United meet Arsene Wenger's Arsenal at the Emirates in today's evening kick-off amid speculation that Ozil may be reunited with Mourinho at Old Trafford following their spell together at Real Madrid.
Arsenal have attempted to tie down Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, whose contract is also set to expire, but the pair have so far resisted offers to stay in north London beyond next summer.
Wenger, meanwhile, decided against selling either player during the most recent transfer window and risks losing both for nothing.
When asked whether he would consider signing Ozil as a free agent, Mourinho grinned and declined to comment, but only after pointing out that players in the 29-year-old's position have the right to run down their contracts and seek new challenges elsewhere.
"That's football," Mourinho said of Ozil's current situation. "Marouane Fellaini (the United midfielder, whose contract also expires next summer) finishes his contract. There are other players in Europe, important players in other teams, they finish their contract.
"Sometimes players they decide to go in this direction, which is a right that they have.
"They gamble, because imagine if one of these players has a big injury. Then probably next season he is without a club, but players have the right to do that.
Mourinho added: "I don't blame the clubs. The clubs they try, but the players have the right to go into this situation and in the end many times, it's good for them.
"Sometimes they go on a free transfer and can get huge salaries. Other times, the clubs get to keep them, they make extra effort and offer very high salaries.
"I'm not speaking about Alexis or Ozil. I'm speaking about the general situation. Even some of us managers, we prefer to let the contract go until the last year and in the last year we make the decision to stay, to leave.
"It's a risk for everyone but sometimes the risk works. The important thing is that the players remain professionals and remain focused in the clubs where they are, and they give everything to the clubs until the last day."
Meanwhile, Mourinho has claimed he was "not surprised" to see Pep Guardiola go unpunished for running on to the pitch after Raheem Sterling's late winner for Manchester City against Southampton.
Guardiola was told to calm down by referee Paul Tierney after encroaching on the field while celebrating Sterling's 96th-minute strike in his side's 2-1 victory on Wednesday.
The Catalan apologised to Tierney for his over-zealousness and the official decided to take no further action, with Guardiola remaining in the City dugout until the final whistle.
Mourinho, however, was sent to the stands during a 1-0 win over Southampton at St Mary's in September after fourth official Mike Jones spotted the United manager step on to the pitch.
Last season, Mourinho complained that rules regarding behaviour on the touchline "must to be the same for every manager" and yesterday, ahead of his side's trip to Arsenal, he was asked whether he was surprised by the inconsistency in the decisions.
"Surprised? No. Not surprised," the United manager said, though he was reluctant to explain why he had expected that Guardiola would not be sent to the stands.
"I can't answer the second question," Mourinho added.
"If you are my friends don't ask me the question because you know I get into problems."
Though Guardiola escaped punishment for running on to the pitch, the City manager has been asked by the English Football Association to explain his post-match conversation with Southampton's Nathan Redmond.
Television images captured Guardiola speaking in an animated and aggressive manner with Redmond on the pitch after the final whistle, though both he and the player insist that it was a friendly exchange.
(© Independent News Service)