Mesut Özil: Why I'm loving Arsenal, London and the Premier League

• Arsène Wenger is a super coach, says club record signing
• Özil will win his 50th cap for Germany against Ireland

Mesut Özil has suggested he has found his perfect fit at Arsenal as he moves on from the acrimony that soured his departure from Real Madrid to thrive in London and the Premier League, which he described as the "strongest league in the world".

The Germany midfielder's £42.5m transfer to Arsenal on the final day of the summer window was greeted with dismay by many of his former Real team-mates yet it is claimed there was also a smear campaign aimed at him, which is believed to have come from the top echelons of the Spanish club.

It has been reported that Florentino Pérez, the Real president, accused Özil of being obsessed with women to the point where he would go out with his mistresses at night and not sleep for hours, thereby affecting his football preparations. The slur drew a furious response from Özil's father and agent, Mustafa, who said that Pérez is "not a man of honour".

Özil said: "I had three fantastic years [at Real] and I would like to leave it at that. I am now happy to play for Arsenal but if you look at the stats of how many matches I made in the last few years, I think that reflects my professionalism."

The 24-year-old talked about singing a Turkish song at his Arsenal initiation, receiving driving lessons for the left-hand side of the road from his club and international team-mate, Per Mertesacker, and his burgeoning love of London. What shone through, though, was the sense of a player who was responding to the support around him. Özil has made a fine start to his Arsenal career, scoring once and creating a handful of other goals.

"The good thing at Arsenal is that the team and coaching staff are fully behind me," he said. "They let me assume and share responsibility and that's what I feel great about. Let me just say that Arsène Wenger is a super coach. He has clear ideas about where he wants to take his team and if you want to be successful, you have to have that kind of coach.

"London is a city I feel great in. I have grown to love the place … I've seen a lot in a short space of time. I thought driving on the left-hand side was much more difficult than it really is, but Per Mertesacker gave me driving lessons."

Özil upheld the tradition of the new boy singing a song to his team-mates, and the one that he chose was a nod towards his Turkish heritage. "I don't want to do it again," he said. "My voice is not up to it. I am not an X Factor candidate by any stretch of the imagination.

"I sang a Turkish song. Of course, people didn't understand what I was singing but they celebrated me nonetheless, which I think was great. It was just something personal I sang for my team-mates. I want it to stay personal."

Özil added: "I think the Premier League is the strongest in the world because it is so balanced, so even, and the competition is so fierce. There are a lot of clubs playing at the same level. It's also a good thing for me to get to know British culture, the language and develop further as a person."

Özil will win his 50th cap against the Republic of Ireland on Friday night in Cologne, which is the home-town of Lukas Podolski, another of Arsenal's Germany contingent. Germany realistically need only a point to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer.

"I've discussed Cologne with Podolski," Özil said. "He grew up here and he loves every inch of the city. It's a football-mad place and we're looking forward to the atmosphere. The Irish team are born fighters but we just have to play our game. I'm quite convinced we will get the three points if we play to our full potential."

Özil was flanked at the pre-match press conference by Sami Khedira, the Germany holding midfielder and a former Real team-mate. "It's to the detriment of any team selling a Mesut Özil," Khedira said. "But having said that, I am of course an employee of Real Madrid and I, like many other players, will be responsible for bringing success in the future, so let's turn the page and open up another chapter without Mesut Özil."

comments powered by Disqus