Sport Soccer

Sunday 22 April 2018

Wenger refutes Real Madrid claims over Ozil

Ben Rumsby

Arsene Wenger has accused Florentino Perez of trying to deflect attention away from his decision to sell Mesut Ozil to Arsenal after the Real Madrid president claimed the player "could not stand the pressure" at the Bernabeu.

Perez this week responded to the backlash from Real players and supporters over the departure of their star playmaker by claiming Ozil asked to leave because he was not strong enough psychologically to cope with playing for the club.

Arsenal manager Wenger, who paid a club-record £42.5m to land the Germany midfielder on transfer deadline day and will hand him his home debut against Stoke City tomorrow afternoon, dismissed any suggestion of mental fragility on the part of his new talisman.

"I have not seen that at all," Wenger said. "He is 24, he has more than 50 caps for Germany, and when you play for Germany, you are under a lot of pressure.

"He won the championship with Real Madrid, and that is a club where there is a lot of pressure."

Wenger said both he and Ozil were "surprised" by the comments of Perez, who was himself under pressure to sell one of his marquee names following Gareth Bale's world-record £86m signing from Tottenham Hotspur.

Asked if Perez might have been trying to justify Ozil's departure, Wenger replied: "That was certainly part of it."

Wenger insisted the mental pressure of playing for Arsenal was no less taxing and that the physical demands were arguably even greater.

He revealed he would have preferred to ease Ozil into the Premier League by starting him on the bench at Sunderland last weekend but injuries forced his hand – with spectacular results for the new signing. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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