Wenger finally splashes cash with €49.5m for Ozil
Arsene Wenger finally joined the big league of European spending when he obliterated Arsenal's transfer record with the £42m signing of Mesut Ozil.
Having been criticised for years over Arsenal's frugality in the transfer market, Wenger ended a frustrating summer in the transfer window on a high by persuading one of the major stars of world football to leave Real Madrid.
Ozil had been offered superior personal terms by Paris St-Germain than the £140,000-a-week five-year deal he agreed at Arsenal but was persuaded to move to the Premier League after speaking personally with Wenger. Per Mertesacker, Ozil's Germany team-mate, also played an important apart in convincing Ozil to join him at Arsenal.
After Chelsea's £50m signing of Fernando Torres, it is the second biggest incoming transfer in British football history and almost trebles Arsenal's previous club record fee of £15m for Andrei Arshavin. Arsenal's signing of Ozil also capped a record-breaking window for English football, with the total spending of Premier League clubs reaching almost £600m.
Manchester United and Liverpool were the other most active Premier League clubs yesterday although Manchester City and Chelsea were still the biggest net spenders after investing £102m and £69m earlier in the window.
As well as Ozil, Arsenal enhanced their goalkeeping options by recruiting Emiliano Viviano on a year-long loan deal. The initial loan will cost £1m and gives Arsenal an option to buy Viviano at the end of the season. Viviano has won six caps for Italy but is being signed as back-up to Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski rather than as a new first-choice 'keeper.
Arsenal had also spent yesterday trying to complete a loan deal for Demba Ba but, with Chelsea demanding a fee of £3m and unwilling to strengthen a direct rival, no agreement could be reached. It is understood that Ba was keen to join and that Arsenal had been satisfied after completing their medical checks. The failure to sign Ba ensured that Nicklas Bendtner remained at Arsenal, despite almost reaching a deal with Crystal Palace. The signing of Ozil, however, became the priority for Wenger, who has tracked the 24-year-old ever since 2007 he broke into the Schalke team as an 18-year-old.
Wenger had always said that he would be prepared to pay big money for what he calls "super quality" and, with Madrid keen to recoup some of their £86m outlay for Gareth Bale, Ozil became available. As well as the £42m fee, Arsenal have broken their wage structure to sign Ozil. Theo Walcott was previously the top earner at £100,000-a-week.
Although the arrival of Ozil represents a major step forward for Arsenal, there is still disappointment that the club ultimately failed to recruit the world-class striker that had been the central aim of the window.
Bids were made for Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain, who eventually joined Napoli from Madrid, but the club were left trying to secure Ba on a temporary deal from Chelsea. It all leaves Arsenal particularly reliant this season on Olivier Giroud. Yaya Sanogo has been added on a free transfer, while Lukas Podolski and Walcott are seen as potential alternatives in the centre-forward position. Bendtner will also be given the opportunity to rehabilitate himself at Arsenal.
Wenger was also determined to enhance his midfield options and, in the long-term, will see Ozil as the successor to Cesc Fabregas in the playmaker's position behind the main centre-forward. Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla have been rotating in that role over the past two years but the team will surely now be rearranged around Ozil. Cazorla will move permanently to the left, while Wilshere will continue to compete with Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini as one of the two holding midfielders. Ozil has provided 94 assists in matches for Germany and Madrid during the past two seasons, a figure that comfortably surpasses Fabregas' tally of 49 for Arsenal, Barcelona and Spain. Arsenal have also succeeded in trimming their squad this summer, with Denilson, Andrei Arshavin, Sebastian Squillaci, Gervinho, Andre Santos, Vito Mannone and Marouane Chamakh have all already left. The signing of Ozil represents the start of what Ivan Gazidis has called the "escalation in our financial firepower". Arsenal had a transfer budget of around £70m at the start of the transfer window but their enhanced spending power is something that will be maintained for the foreseeable future. The new money follows the renegotiation of deals that were signed for a 10-year period in 2004 to secure the funding to build the Emirates Stadium. It means that Arsenal's revenues will increase by £70m a year, allowing the club to join Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich in generating more than £300m a year. (© Daily Telegraph, London)