Former Arsenal transfer negotiator Dick Law has revealed how the Gunners had to overcome Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to sign Mesut Ozil in 2013.
Ozil switched Madrid for north London for a club-record £42.5m in September 2013, with supporters filling the streets to celebrate the signing after years of watching star players leave the Emirates without being adequately replaced.
Arsenal’s signing of Ozil in six points…
- Real Madrid needed to sell players following their £85m signing of Gareth Bale in 2013.
- Arsenal were told by Los Blancos that Ozil was available.
- Daniel Levy had conditioned Madrid not to sell players to Arsenal.
- This meant Law had to fly back to London for Arsenal’s game v Spurs to avoid suspicion.
- Law then had to go to Munich to “man-mark” Ozil’s representatives after hearing of interest from Man Utd.
- Ozil eventually signed for Arsenal on September 2, 2013, for £42.5m.
Since then, the former Germany international has lifted three FA Cups, while no Arsenal player has managed more than his 56 Premier League assists during that time.
And now, Law has revealed the hoops Arsenal had to jump through for Ozil’s signature.
“Real Madrid, for all of their firepower, really stretched themselves when they bought [Gareth] Bale [from Spurs],” Law told Goal. “They paid an extraordinary amount of money for him and they gave him an extraordinary contract, what that meant was they needed to sell somebody. So it’s the Bale story that leads us to Ozil.
“We got signals from Madrid that they had players for sale, so I flew out to meet with Jose Angel Sanchez, the general manager of Madrid, and he said that the club would consider selling Karim Benzema or Angel Di Maria – and he gave me a number.
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“So I called Ivan and Arsene. We were all very cautious and sceptical, but the one thing we knew based on that meeting was they had to sell someone.
“We sat down with Jose Angel, who said that Ancelotti didn’t want to sell either of Benzema or Di Maria, but he would sell Ozil.”
Law then revealed how, once the deal for Ozil was complete, he was urged back to London to be in the director’s box for the North London derby with Spurs to stop Daniel Levy becoming nervous.
“Jose Angel had told Ivan that Levy had called him and said the one last condition of the Bale deal was Madrid couldn’t sell any players to Arsenal,” he added.
“Ivan’s response was that Levy was bluffing because he’d already spent the Bale money. But he still said to me that we couldn’t take a chance and asked if I could get from Munich to London to be in the directors’ box because Tottenham were starting to think something was going down.
“So, I got a flight at 11 am, changed on the way and when I walked into the directors’ box I saw Franco Baldini and Levy and they asked what I was doing. I said it was the derby, I wasn’t going to miss it.”
Man Utd also in the mix
Finally, Law was instructed to “man-mark” Ozil’s representatives after Arsenal’s hierarchy received word of Man Utd trying to do a deal of their own with the playmaker.
He said: “The chairman then got news that Manchester United were going to try and cut across the deal. So Ivan called me and asked me to man-mark Ozil’s father and business advisor in Munich.
“I had to sit from 10 am to 10 pm in the bar at the Four Seasons taking calls from the contract team with questions about this clause and that clause. They eventually drafted everything and sent it over for Ozil to sign.
“Of course, this was all happening while Ozil was with the German national team so our access to him was a bit limited. But, we got it done.
“It was terrific. Between the transfer fee and the salary, it was the largest deal in the history of Arsenal.”