Ex-Real Madrid playmaker reveals why he snubbed Barcelona, picks Messi as the best opponent
German playmaker Mesut Ozil has recently announced his retirement from football, a few years after he left Arsenal to play in Turkey, during the final phase of his career.
Ozil’s last club was Istanbul Basaksehir, a team he joined last summer on a free transfer. He featured in just seven competitive matches for the club before retiring from professional football.
In the aftermath of his announcement, Ozil recently sat down with MARCA to talk about various aspects of his illustrious career. The playmaker most notably revealed the reason why he snubbed FC Barcelona earlier in his career.
“The decision was between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It wasn’t about the money, I don’t know if you know the story but I visited Barcelona and Real Madrid. The difference is [Jose] Mourinho,” he said.
Formerly of Werder Bremen and Schalke, Ozil joined Real Madrid in an €18 million deal in 2010. The move turned out to be very successful, as the German racked up 81 assists in just 159 competitive matches for Los Blancos.
Ozil explained that the reason he opted to join Real Madrid was not only Mourinho but also the atmosphere inside the Bernabeu. “Mo gave me a VIP visit to Real Madrid and I saw the stadium and the trophies they won, which gave me goosebumps,” he said.
“The visit to Barcelona was less enthusiastic and disappointing Pep did not bother to meet me, although I liked Barcelona’s style of football and really imagined playing with them. But Real Madrid came out with everything and Mourinho was the most important factor in my decision,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil, who featured in over 250 matches for Arsenal, claimed that Lionel Messi is the best opponent he has ever played against. “Messi. I think everyone knows why,” he said.
Ozil indeed had very limited success against Messi’s Barcelona, winning just four times in 18 outings in all competitions.