Mesut Ozil dismisses nightclub claims
Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has rejected claims his visit to a nightclub following his side's 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford had anything to do with his delayed arrival at Germany's training camp.
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Ozil, 25, did not meet up with his German compatriots in Munich until Wednesday afternoon ahead of his nation's friendlies against Italy and England.
The Arsenal midfielder reported ill with a virus that also caused his club teammate Per Mertesacker to pull out of the Germany squad.
However, doubts regarding Ozil's illness emerged when the Express published photographs of Ozil leaving a nightclub during the early hours of Monday morning following Arsenal’s defeat at United.
“It was already late when we returned from Manchester. I then went for food and drinks,” Ozil told Bild on Wednesday. “But that had nothing to do with reporting ill with a flu the next day.”
“I felt totally fit in Manchester and went the full 90 minutes,” Ozil added.
The midfield star is hoping to be fit in time for the rematch of the 2012 European Championship semifinal against Italy, which Germany lost 2-1.
Later on Thursday, German national team general manager Oliver Bierhoff backed the player, insisting his conduct was not in question.
"I know how media works, I don't think about it," he told a news conference ahead of Friday's friendly.
"I don't have a problem with it. Ozil has given his all for Germany and such things happen."
The former Germany striker said he thought Ozil would play some part in Milan, but with a trip to Wembley to face England on Tuesday on the horizon it was likely the Arsenal man would either not start against the Azzurri or not play until the final whistle.
"I don't think he'll be able to play the full 90 minutes, as there is always the danger of a setback," he said. "But I am no fortune teller."
In September, Real Madrid denied a claim by Ozil’s father that Florentino Perez leaked negative stories about his son's off-pitch behaviour to quell criticism in Spain of the decision to sell the German to Arsenal for 50 million euros.