'They're either naive or scheming': Özil’s agent hits out at Neuer, Kroos and Müller

  • Erkut Sögüt defends player’s decision to meet Erdoğan
  • ‘Thomas Müller did not understand the whole discussion’

Mesut Özil’s agent has hit out at Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos over comments they made in the wake of the Arsenal midfielder’s decision to quit international football.

Erkut Sögüt said the trio were either “naive or scheming” in their responses to the statement Özil issued in July to announce he would no longer be playing for Germany. The agent also strongly defended his client for being photographed with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Kroos told the newspaper Bild that there was a “lot of nonsense” in Özil’s statement, which ran to more than 2,000 words and included the claim that he had suffered “racism and disrespect”.

Sögüt, speaking to the German magazine 11Freunde, said: “Neuer indirectly accused Mesut of not having worn the German jersey with pride. This is unacceptable. Müller did not understand the whole discussion. And Kroos, as a seasoned national team player, should explain what he means by ‘nonsense’.”

The agent described the three players’ remarks as “more than disappointing – and also out of place” and added: “There are only two explanations: they are either naive or scheming.”

Müller had said that for Germany’s players “the whole issue never was as big as it was made out to be” by the media and that racism in the squad was “absolutely out of the question”. Neuer, Kroos and Germany’s manager, Joachim Löw, have also stated that there was no racist behaviour in the team. Sögüt said: “Löw defends himself against an accusation that has never actually been made: Mesut has not been racially abused from within the team but from the midst of German society. The German football association should have been more protective in this case.”

Sögüt was speaking publicly on the issue for the first time since Özil was pictured with Erdoğan last May, sparking a wave of criticism of the player, who was then widely attacked for his performances during Germany’s failed World Cup campaign. During the tournament racist comments regarding Özil were made via social media.

“Mesut did not make any mistakes,” the agent said of Özil’s meeting with Erdoğan. “That’s how it stays. It is just a matter of respect and courtesy to agree to meet the president of Turkey when he requests it. The two of them have met regularly over the past eight years. It has never been a problem before for the German public.”

In respect of Erdoğan’s changed politics over those eight years and the tense relationship that now exists between Germany and Turkey, Sögüt said: “Should we tell Mesut: ‘You cannot meet with the president – but maybe in two months’ time’? That really does not make any sense.”

Sögüt denied having talked Özil into attending the meeting or attempting to dissuade him from going. “Why should I? Mesut is old enough, he knows what he is doing. And he has known the president far longer than he knows me.”