Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that the club-record £42.5m transfer completed in September was not the first time he tried to sign Mesut Ozil, and that the playmaker knew Wenger had wanted to sign him “for a long time”.
In an interview with arsenal.com, Wenger claimed that because he had spoken with the German before, in 2010 when he moved from Werder Bremen to Real Madrid, that strengthened his hand in negotiations with other teams interested before the deadline-day move.
"We had a big advantage, and that was I had been in contact with Mesut before, when he went to Real Madrid three years ago,” Wenger said. “I spoke to him back then on the phone, in the end he told me he wanted to go to Real Madrid, so I wished him well, but that first contact had been made. He knew that I wanted him for a long time, and this was not the first time I tried to sign him."
Wenger admitted that it was a "big responsibility" to spend the kind of money that Arsenal splashed out on Ozil, but says the club are in a comfortable financial position at the moment, seven years after the Emirates Stadium opened. The manager claimed that more world-class signings could be made every season now, but only if they are not detrimental to the club’s youth development.
"The policy is exactly the same - I always want to bring the best players in here, world-class players, at the best possible price.
"And I want to continue to educate 60 to 80 per cent of the squad ourselves. The culture of the club, the way we want to play football and the way we want to behave, comes from within."
He added: "The [Jack] Wilsheres, the [Aaron] Ramseys, the [Kieran] Gibbs - these kind of players have to be the culture of the club.
"Then on top of that, we want to bring world-class players who will help us to be even stronger."
Asked if there could be a big-name signing joining the Gunners each season now, Wenger said: "If they are needed, then yes. If it’s just for marketing reasons, then no. But for football reasons, why not."