Perhaps the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson has been hesitant to sign World Cup star Mesut Ozil from Werder Bremen should not be altogether surprising. The midfielder appears capable of ticking every one of the required boxes – except one. You see, the 21 year old is German and Ferguson has NEVER, ever signed a German player in all his years at Old Trafford.
The closest Sir Alex came to it was when he paid Bayern Munich £17 million for an England international who is Canadian with a Welsh mother and an English father. Owen Hargreaves had spent seven years playing in Munich but that hardly makes him a German does it? Granted, only a relatively small number of 30 German players have ever been used in the Premier League in the last 20 years which is surprising considering the large number of foreigners who has flooded into English clubs.
Not that Ferguson has ever been averse to having overseas players at Old Trafford as the large number he has brought from every corner of the world clearly shows so why never anyone from Germany? Manchester United has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with it’s German counterparts since the great tragedy of 1958 which makes the absence of transfer dealings between the two even more puzzling. Can it simply be a coincidence or is there something more to it?
It’s quite remarkable that when it comes to German footballers, very few are prepared to make a move to the Premiership with Jürgen Klinsmann, Jens Lehmann, Karl-Heinz Riedle, Dietmar Hamann, Michael Ballack and Jans Lehmann the most high profile to give England a try. Perhaps it’s because of the overall strength that the Bundesliga has had over the years yet there have been many German players who had no hesitation in transferring to Serie A and to the La Liga.
Obviously nobody can say with any certainty what goes on in Ferguson’s mind and it will be grossly unreasonable to accuse him of any sort of unsavory attitude towards German footballers but the comment he made following the Champions League aggregate defeat by Bayern Munich at Old Trafford earlier this year immediately comes to mind.
Questioned by the English media about the red card harshly shown to Rafa da Silva early in the second half, Sir Alex caused a storm by responding “There is no doubt about it” he snarled “They were never getting through that tie, with 11 men we had no problem. The young boy showed a bit of inexperience but they got him sent off. Everyone sprinted towards the referee – typical Germans.”
Was there more than a little hint of frustration in that response? Is there something in the German football mentality that Ferguson finds hard to accept? Could there be another reason for the fact that not a single German footballer has ever been signed by him for Manchester United? Whether there is or not, nobody will ever know. All we have to go on is that one, undisputable fact.
Why do so few German footballers come across to the Premier League?