Transfer speculation is always part and parcel of football during the summer with dozens of big money deals mooted in the media. The bigger the fees, the more sensational the headlines until the rumour dies a natural death and be replaced by another. Manchester United has always been at the forefront of this gossip with Sir Alex Ferguson forever expected to make some sort of a big announcement. Most have now been dead and buried with the exception of one which has been remarkable in its persistence – and there just may be a very good reason for it.
Reports have been circulating for days that Ferguson has his eyes firmly fixed on Werder Bremen’s German World Cup playmaker Mesut Ozil. Rather than fading away, these rumours appear to be gathering momentum with even the official club website announcing yesterday that United are now “the bookies’ favourites to sign Ozil. Skybet have the Reds at a mind boggling 1/5 to sign the German schemer which basically translates that bookmakers everywhere are virtually convinced he’s coming to Old Trafford.”
Respected German football magazine Kicker suggest that United are actually the only club prepared to bid for Ozil in the current transfer window. Expanding on yesterday’s rumours in the Spanish press that Barcelona and Real Madrid are happy to wait until January. The report claims that Werder Bremen are braced for a £12million offer from Old Trafford although they are keen to hold out for around £15million. Nevertheless the club is prepared to negotiate a fee before the transfer window closes because the player will be out of contract at the end of the season and runs a real risk of losing him for nothing.
Sir Alex is known to have been tracking Ozil before his World Cup exploits for Germany shot him to prominence. He fits the bill perfectly for United with his superb skill, passing ability and shooting power. Just as importantly for Ferguson, at the age of just 21, the midfielder represents the ‘value’ that he is so determined to obtain in his transfer dealings. Werder Bremen are resigned to losing Ozil and the player himself has suggested that he is tempted by a move to the Premier League. “I want to win trophies and there are two clubs in England, United and Chelsea, who win trophies” he said.
Apart from the outstanding football talent repeatedly shown in South Africa, Ozil is a third generation member of the fiercely proud Turkish community in Germany. He is also a practicing Muslim who recites the Koran before matches to help him focus admitting to the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel that “I always do that before I go out on the pitch. I pray and my team mates know that they cannot talk to me during this brief period.” That Turkish connection may just be the one that could help land Ozil at Old Trafford.
Commercial considerations are an important factor in the successful operation of a football club nowadays so one has to remember the fact that Manchester United signed a lucrative three and a half year sponsorship deal with Turkish Airlines in March this year. The company runs an aggressive marketing campaign and will be delighted to see a player with the cultural background of Ozil wearing the red shirt of the club.
That theory may all be highly speculative of course but it just may be sufficient to give a decisive edge to Ferguson if he wants to sign the player badly enough. And that, quite frankly, is the key to any possible transfer deal taking place.
Does Ozil represent the ‘good value’ that Ferguson looks for?