Ozil Signs On, Some Thoughts on the Liege FriendlyBy: Jordan | August 17th, 2010
Let me start by saying sorry for the length between these two posts. It has taken some time for me to get signed up with WordPress and to get the hang of their dashboard so if this post seems a little wonky please understand that I’m trying to get it all figured out.
Mesut in action against Australia
According to Soccernet.com and RealMadrid.com, German starlet Mesut Özil has officially signed on with Real Madrid for a reported fee of €15 million. Özil started his career at Schalke 04 in 2006 until 2008 when he left for Bremen. In 2009 he led the German under-21 side to a UEFA Euro Championship against England with two assists and one goal.
As I mentioned in my last post, Marca claimed that Real would go after Özil if they fail to sign a third striker to bolster the attacking lineup and after today’s performance against Standard Liege, some semblance of frontman past Pipita and Benzema might be needed, but more on that in a bit. Werder Bremen, knowing full well Madrid had the wonder boy in their sights for some time now played a dangerous game of brinkmanship in claiming that they would play Özil in Wednesday’s Champion’s League clash against Sampdoria and cup locking him for the season. After rejecting the initial bid from Real that was deemed “risible” by Bremen general manager Klaus Allofs, the two sides reached a final agreement pending a medical. I think it would have been extremely interesting to see Real call Bremen’s bluff and see if they would play their starlet Wednesday knowing full well he would be out the door come January when he reaches free agency.
Now I’m going to beat the same dead horse we’ve been beating since the Özil rumors started to surface, but the Özil signing STILL seems to be a bit of an unnecessary luxury. I mean with players like Canales, Van der Vart, León, Di Maria, and Kaká when he gets back from injury, I don’t know where he fits into the equation. Even if he does somehow fit into the equation, I think someone is going to be the odd man out. I’m looking at you Di Maria. Now I’m not saying we need to turn around and sell off a new signing (especially not Canales), but after today’s performance (granted I only saw the second half of the game due to power being out and forcing me to sleep through the first half), Di Maria seems to just get in the way and lack the final ball we know Özil can produce. Di Maria seemed to lack any positioning discipline, roaming to the left and the right as he pleased and really seemed to stop León from effectively getting down the right flank. But all the blame can’t be shouldered on Di Maria, I think the main problem of the second half was the lack of true striker in the lineup. Ronaldo stayed on the left and Di Maria for the most part stayed on the right ahead of León. What we really lacked was anyone down the middle. I’m not entirely what precipitated Mourinho leaving out Gonzo and Benzema for the second half, but it sure hurt the offensive mojo.
VDV will fight for his spot
The Özil signing has also seemed to light a fire in Van der Vart’s gut. He stroked in a free kick in the 12th minute in today’s friendly to put Los Blancos up 1-0. AS.com has VDV quoted as saying he will continue to fight for his spot on the team and that Mourinho has declared that all players have opportunities at Real (I’m not going to directly quote AS as I am using a Google translated page and some of the translations are a little off, but the story can be found here). Now “opportunities” can mean many things. You could say a player like Royston Drenthe has an opportunity to play here, but we all know that his opportunities are going to come few and very far between if he keeps his current form. Van der Vart is coming off a pretty decent World Cup with the Dutch despite playing second fiddle to the likes of Arjen Robben. I believe VDV has a place in the Real squad, but I am not sure if it necessarily a starting role. Last season he played a crucial second half sub role and truly helped Madrid win some key games down the stretch (the Sevilla game anyone?). Now with the likes of Canales and now Özil, his chances of seeing the starting eleven seem even slimmer now. It’s a shame really; it just seems to be a bad place and bad time for Rafa. At least he is treating it like a true professional, claiming he will do everything in his power to fight for his spot and earn his white shirt.
Finally, it seems RealMadrid.com are taking today’s result in stride with headlines reading “Still Undefeated in the Preseason.” I’m positive Mourinho won’t be too pleased with the result, but I’m pretty sure he’s still got a few tricks up those sleeves of his. I mean come on, look at this sass.
Sass mode: engaged.