Özil's landing point still unclear
But supporters of the Bundesliga club would be well advised to resist investing in a new kit bearing the name of the German international. The 21-year-old is a player "on call," as local newspaper
His Germany teammate
Özil's situation is, on the face of it, very similar. He, too, is in in the final year of his deal. Talks about extending his contract broke down before the World Cup. Soccer logic dictates that Bremen follows Stuttgart's lead and take the money now. But it's not quite as simple as that.
Özil himself, for one, is on record saying that he's willing to see out the last year at Werder.
"The situation is clear for the next 12 months," Özil told
One is tempted to dismiss these sentiments as lip service, but they do, in fact, reflect a genuine concern that a transfer might not be in his best interest at the moment. Sources familiar with the situation told SI.com that talks with Real Madrid and Barcelona proved inconclusive, as neither club could convince Özil and his agent,
Nike, which sponsors Özil, has reportedly also cautioned against a move that might see him spend most of the coming months sitting on the bench. The U.S.-based sports company want to make Özil the German face of its campaigns and would prefer him starring in the Bundesliga rather than playing a bit part in Spain.
There are other considerations, too. Özil, the son of Turkish immigrants, is still a very young player, on and off the pitch. Another year in the relative sedate surroundings of northern Germany would help him grow as a person and afford him more time to hone his game. It's sometimes overlooked that last season was not just marked by his breakthrough in the national team but also marred by inconsistent performances at the club level. Guaranteed playing time in a team built around him can only benefit his development.
Staying put is probably the more lucrative option for him in the medium-term, too. As a free agent, Özil could command a huge signing bonus on top of his wages next year. A sizable part of the $22 million Werder might make from his sale this year would thus go straight to him instead.
That, conversely, constitutes a very good reason for Werder to sell now. But the economic case for the deal isn't that clear-cut, either. Bremen has an important qualification tie for the Champions League in two weeks. Failure to reach the competition's group stage would cost it an estimated $27 million -- more than the proceeds from the Özil sale, in other words. But if Özil plays in those games, he will be barred from turning out in the Champions League for other teams, and therefore considerably less valuable on the market.
"If there are any offers [for Özil], we will think about them," Allofs
Contrast this statement with Allofs' categorical refusal to listen to advances for Bremen defender
Still, Allofs cannot sell Özil against his wishes. That effectively rules out Barcelona and Real Madrid as potential buyers -- for the moment. A high-profile move to the Premier League seems the most likely outcome, provided one of the three clubs that have privately expressed an interest (Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United) can agree to terms with Özil and present a creditable scenario pertaining to his starting chances.
The future of one of Europe's brightest talents should be decided in the next few days. Fazeli's mobile phone better have a strong battery life.