ARSENAL last night abandoned years of thrift in spectacular fashion by spending almost three times their previous record fee on signing Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.
At the end of a transfer window in which England’s top clubs spent an unprecedented amount, the Gunners provided the story of the day by paying the Spanish club £42.5m for the 24-year-old playmaker.
It came on a busy day for Arsene Wenger, who also completed a season-long loan deal for Italian goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano but failed with a similar offer for Chelsea striker Demba Ba.
But by far the most eye-catching development was Wenger’s response to a summer of supporter pressure to draw a line under an era of parsimony with the second most expensive signing in history by an English club.
Ozil signed a five-year contract believed to be worth around £130,000 per week after undergoing a medical and agreeing personal terms yesterday while in Munich with the German national team.
“I am thrilled to be joining a club of the stature of Arsenal and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League,” he said. “It will be great for my own personal development as a player and I am particularly looking forward to working with Arsene Wenger. From our negotiations it is clear the club has huge ambition and I look forward to being part of an exciting future.”
As recently as last week the former Schalke and Werder Bremen player was declaring his intention to extend his three-year stay in Spain, but had a change of heart following Arsenal’s late interest.
In a twist to north London rivalry, Real are believed to have told Ozil that he was surplus to requirements as they looked to raise funds to offset their own world record £85.3m purchase of Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.
Wenger said: “We are extremely pleased to have signed Mesut Ozil. He is a great player, with proven quality at both club and international level. We have watched and admired him for some time as he has all the attributes I look for in an Arsenal player.
“I have said throughout the summer that we have been working hard to bring in top quality players to this football club. This has involved many, many people across the club and I have always had the full support of the club in making decisions on the football side.”
The left-footed No10 played 157 games for Real, scoring 27 times and assisting 81 goals. In 47 international appearances Ozil has notched 14 times.
Viviano, 27, has been recruited as back-up to Arsenal No1 Wojciech Szczesny and, under the terms of the agreement, can be bought from Palermo for £5m next summer.
Wenger failed to land Ba from Chelsea despite sustained efforts on deadline day, meaning that he is left with Olivier Giroud and youngster Yaya Sanogo as his only senior centre-forwards.
The Gunners boss spent much of the summer attempting to land a marquee striker but proved unable to strike big-money deals for Real’s Gonzalo Higuain, who joined Napoli, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney or Luis Suarez of Liverpool.
The collapse of a possible agreement for Ba, who only joined Chelsea from Newcastle in January, prompted Wenger to pull the plug on Nicklas Bendtner’s departure.
In total Premier League clubs were estimated to have spent close to £600m, a 20 per cent increase on the previous high of £500m spent in the 2008 summer window. Arsenal’s outlay on Ozil was £27.5m higher than the club’s previous record signing and second only to Chelsea’s 2011 purchase of Fernando Torres in the list of fees paid by English clubs.
SPENDING HITS NEW HIGH
English clubs smash previous record
Premier League sides spent an estimated total of around £600m in the summer transfer window, which closed last night. That figure was more than £100m higher than last year’s sum and greater also than the previous record activity totalling £500m in 2008. It comes as Premier League sides enjoy a windfall from lucrative new TV rights deals and despite regulatory pressure to break even.
Top transfer deadline day done deals
Real Madrid to Arsenal (£42m)
Everton to Man Utd (£27.5m)
Paris Saint-Germain to Liverpool (£18m)
Wigan to Everton (£13m)
Sporting Lisbon to Liverpool (£7m)
Lazio to Aston Villa (£7m)
Everton to West Brom (£6m)
Sunderland to West Brom (£5m)
Werder Bremen to Stoke (undisclosed)
Aston Villa to Crystal Palace (undisclosed)
Reading to Crystal Palace (undisclosed)
Palermo to Arsenal (loan)