Gareth Bale enters a familiar warzone at Madrid following Ozil’s Arsenal move


When Claude Makelele departed the Spanish capital way back in 2003, he did so amidst a cacophony of flabbergasted cries from the famous Galácticos themselves. French legend, and now club assistant manager, Zinedine Zidane was most vociferous in his objection to the sale of Makelele, saying with regard to the David Beckham purchase that same transfer window,

‘Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?’

An encapsulating notion from the formerly enigmatic midfielder; and Zidane was right to question his international colleague’s sale to Chelsea, as Madrid failed to win the Spanish La Liga for the next three years, and more poignantly, have not won the Champions league since the little destroyer’s exit.

While Mesut Ozil is a totally different player to Makelele, his departure has brought back familiar resentment, with a plethora of stars such as Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Khedira, Arbeloa, Isco, and even Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas piping up to voice their astonishment at the German playmaker’s exit. National team coach, Joachim Löw cannot himself fathom the logic behind the transfer,

“For me, it’s incomprehensible that Real would sell one of their top scorers,” Löw said.

“Many Real players like Sami Khedira or Cristiano Ronaldo are sad about the transfer.”

Indeed, Ronaldo, who is probably quite vexed over losing his mantle of being the world’s most costly player, was reported to have told his national teammates,

‘The sale of Ozil is bad news for me. He was the player who best knew my moves in front of goal. I’m angry about Ozil leaving.’

Not a comforting start to Gareth Bale’s spectacular move abroad.

Gareth Bale enters a familiar warzone at Madrid following Ozil’s Arsenal move
(BBC Sport)

Bale, who was not risked in Wales’ World Cup qualifying defeat to Macedonia on Friday due to a problematic foot injury, completed his world record £85.5m transfer to the ‘new Galácticos this month; and his move could be likened to Beckham’s transfer ten years ago.

A Brit abroad in the world of football is as uncommon as it gets, but Beckham had to endure a similar wave of malcontent from the then Galácticos over Makelele’s move; and one hopes Bale has similar mental strength to that of the former England captain so as withstand the cloud of insecurity that currently hangs over the club.

With his cheeky, British smile, Gareth Bale will surely win many new fans for the Spanish side, something President Florentino Perez did not envisage with the Brazilian, Ronaldinho back in 2003. Barcelona’s former twinkle-toed prince was rejected by the magpie-esque Perez, in favour of the sparking right foot of David Beckham; something universally accepted to be a grave error.

Not to say Ronaldinho’s toothy grin isn’t as appealing as Beckham’s rugged good-looks, but the exit of the introverted Ozil for the boy-band coiffured Bale may give the more glossy magazine-inclined football fans food for thought.

The phrase ‘too ugly to market’ reported used by the Madrid President back in 2003 is a shockingly harsh business strategy to adhere to, and the Ronaldinho miscalculation is testament to the flaws of this plan; there really is no one quite like Perez!

How apt then that the 33-year-old Brazilian maestro caught the headlines only this month with two brilliant free kicks for his current club, Fluminense in the Brazilian league.

‘Don’t sell Ozil’ read the signs and placards held up by conflicted Madrid fans at Bale’s impressively lavish unveiling on Monday. The Real faithful knew the importance of the little German in the team, as did Jose Mourinho during his controversial period as Madrid boss. The eccentric Portuguese has heaped praise on his former charge since his move to the Premier League,

‘Ozil is unique,’ Mourinho said,

‘There is no copy of him – not even a bad one. He is the best number 10 in the world. He [made] things very easy for me and for his team-mates with his football vision and the decisions he makes.

‘Everyone loves him and sees a bit of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane in him.”

Mourinho also admitted that he blocked Demba Ba’s loan move to Arsenal because he considers Ozil’s arrival at the club to make them title contenders. Where else has there been such frank honesty over a player’s importance and season-changing attributes?

Those attributes are clear to see from the stats. Making more than double the amount of key passes during a single game than any of his former Madrid teammates last season, Ozil is a magician; butchering defences with weighted through balls and intricate interplay that render the opposition’s presence redundant.

Gareth Bale enters a familiar warzone at Madrid following Ozil’s Arsenal move
(The Daily Telegraph)

But it not only his ability to play the right ball, but his avoidance of a hit-and-miss tactic that makes him that little bit special. Perfectly weighted killer passes cannot be perfect every time, but Ozil’s 84% pass completion ratio proves that his intelligence ensures that he plays the right pass at the right time.

As if on the other end of the spectrum, Bale is as direct as they come. Matched only by the incorrigible Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of sheer thrust,  Bale takes some stopping with the wind in his sails (just ask the Brazilian, Maicon); he will not be a similar creative hub for the Spanish giants as Ozil was.

Not to say that it is a wrong move for the club in signing the Welshman, but, to take a leaf out of Zidane’s book of poetic insinuations, ‘Another cannon is all very well, but where is the gunner?’

Well, ‘the Gunners’ have acquired quite a trigger in Mesut Ozil, but only time will tell how much of an impact the German’s exit will have on Madrid. Arsenal are predictably thrilled with the capture, not only due to Arsene Wenger finally obliterating the club’s paltry transfer record, but because Ozil represents a glowing future for the club. Joachim Löw believes their faith in the midfielder will be telling,

“Mesut is a sensitive player and he needs the faith from the club and the coach.

“It seems that was no longer 100% there at Real whereas Arsenal and their coach Arsene Wenger pulled out all the stops to get him.

“He has a top coach there and, with Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker, he has two German colleagues. Arsenal are a strong team who play technically high-quality football.”

While the existence of the moniker ‘the Makelele role’ is as unique an endorsement as any seen before in modern football, Mesut Ozil has a rare and inviting wave of enthusiasm on which to ride on; not since the signing of Dennis Bergkamp have Arsenal fans been so proud to be a Gunner. Madrid meanwhile may well be hoping that Isco has the qualities to fill a troubling void; ‘the Ozil role’.

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