Mesut Ozil's departure from Real Madrid has not been a happy one. Photo: AFP
Star signing Mesut Ozil has complained that he was not afforded sufficient respect or trust at Real Madrid and said he would have happily joined Arsenal to play under Arsene Wenger for nothing.
Wenger's £42 million ($72 million) record signing was unveiled on Thursday at Arsenal's London Colney training base amid a growing row over the circumstances of his departure from Madrid.
The Spanish newspaper ABC had earlier reported allegations, supposedly from Real president Florentino Perez, that called into question Ozil's professionalism. Ozil's father, Mustafa, quickly responded with the threat of legal action before Perez contacted ABC to deny having made the remarks.
A clarification was published but, by then, the Ozil family had vocally hit back. Speaking to the German newspaper Bild, Ozil snr claimed his son has been turned into ''a scapegoat'' and said that Perez was not a man of honour.
Ozil was sold to help fund Gareth Bale's £86 million move to Real Madrid and his displeasure at the way he had been treated was evident during the welcome press conference at Arsenal.
Asked why Real agreed to sell him, Ozil said: ''I did not get the respect and trust. It was a bit difficult. When I spoke to Arsene on the phone, he was full of respect and, as a player, I need that.
''I'm not disappointed. I'm at Arsenal now, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world. You can see by the reaction of the fans and the players [at Real] that they didn't understand the move.
''I don't want to say anything bad about Madrid because I had three wonderful years there. I have great friends there. We achieved a lot with the club.''
Despite having only trained with his new Arsenal teammates for the first time on Wednesday, Ozil is likely to start Saturday against Sunderland. He has, according to sources, been extremely focused in training and already wowed Arsenal players and staff with his silky touch on the ball.
On the stories in the Spanish media relating to his professionalism, Ozil said: ''People who know me know how professional I am. You can see how many games I played for Madrid - 159 games.
''If you're not professional in your life then I don't think you can play that many games.
''All the rumours, I don't care about them. I have a new task here. I'm just looking ahead. I am in London now. We have big goals here and we will work very hard to reach these goals.''
Ozil created more goals than any player in Europe during his time at Real and the decision to sell him for half of the Bale fee prompted considerable shock in Spain.
Arsenal has been the main beneficiary and Ozil repeatedly made it clear on Thursday that the personal intervention of Wenger was critical in him deciding not to pursue competing interest from Manchester United or Paris St Germain.
''I am really happy to be here under such a great manager,'' Ozil said. ''That was the most important, what he thinks about me, what his plans are with me, and I decided to come to Arsenal because I have the trust.
''I would have come here without a fee, that wouldn't have been a problem.
''I want to play offensive and good football, we want to keep clean sheets, to play attractive football but also successful football. I cannot promise to win trophies, but I can promise that as a team we will give our all to win trophies.''
Asked if Arsenal could challenge this season to win the Premier League, Ozil said: ''Of course, definitely. I know the team. I know what talent we have here. Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world and we definitely want to achieve something with this team.''
Ozil also stressed that he regards the Premier League as the best in the world and that he is confident both of improving as a player but also coping with the more physical style of football.
''The young players develop very well here,'' he said. ''This was one of the reasons why I chose to come here. I want to continue to improve myself.
''I know how successful Arsenal have been and what successful players they have had. Players like Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas. Many young players came here and got to become the best players in the world. Of course it is very physical here, but it is a man's sport and I am really glad to play in the best league in the world.
''I want to prove myself in England.''