Mesut Özil has revealed how he could have joined Arsenal from Werder Bremen following his exploits at the 2010 World Cup, but the German instead opted to complete a transfer to Real Madrid.
The midfielder was one of the most sought after players in Europe after the summer tournament in South Africa and, amid serious interest from elsewhere, selected the Santiago Bernabeu as his desired destination.
Özil has now conceded that he did have the opportunity to sign for Arsenal, and even spoke with Arsene Wenger to discuss a potential move to the Emirates Stadium.
"I had long conversations with Wenger before I joined Real and that's how I got to know about Arsenal, and the way that they like to sign talented players who can move the ball well," Özil told The Guardian.
"That's really important for me. In the end, I did decide to go to Real and I had three wonderful years there. I had a great manager in José Mourinho, who really helped me. He was always there when I needed him."
Wenger did, of course, eventually capture his target, with Özil joining the Gunners on transfer deadline day this year, in what was a record €50 million acquisition for the north London club.
Özil is delighted that he finally got another opportunity to work under Wenger, and has described leaving Madrid for Arsenal as the 'perfect' step in his career.
"I'm really proud to be here now and the most important thing was the trust that the boss put in me. He convinced me to sign and I could not be any happier to be here," he added.
"This has really been the perfect step for me. Wenger is one of the best managers. This is why we are so successful and why we are on a good path."
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