Real Madrid have denied a claim by Mesut 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.
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A story in Spanish newspaper ABC last week claimed that Blancos president Perez had told senior Madrid socios [members] that Ozil had been allowed to leave as the club had got fed up with the player’s unprofessional off-the-pitch behaviour.
Mustapha Ozil reacted angrily to these claims, threatening to sue Madrid and Perez for blackening his son's name. The Primera Division giants have now quickly moved to distance themselves from the original story.
That ABC report contained no direct quotes from anyone at Madrid, but said Perez would tell a behind-closed-doors meeting that while Ozil had strictly followed his Islamic faith when he arrived at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in 2010, he then began socialising and womanising so much that his performances had suffered.
The paper also claimed that Ozil senior, who handles his son’s affairs, had leaked stories of interest from other clubs after Madrid turned down his demand for an €8.5 million salary.
He angrily denied all such suggestions in Bild on Thursday and claimed he would go to court to defend his and his son’s good names.
"Just because someone earns a lot of money does not make them automatically a man of honour,” Ozil senior said. “And [Florentino] Perez is no man of honour. Mesut is made the scapegoat now. And I am the greedy father, who only waits for the big money. A put-up job, a bad business. We will defend ourselves legally."
Madrid quickly reacted to this by issuing a statement to the German paper denying that Perez had anything to do with the ABC story.
"It is thoroughly denied that president Florentino Perez or any other member of the football club has anything to do with the information about the player Ozil that was published in a Spanish newspaper," the statement said. "The Spanish newspaper, in which the information was published, denies any kind of connection of the aforementioned with the publishing of the story. A press release by the newspaper confirmed that no-one from the club made any contact with the paper nor made any statement regarding this issue. Real Madrid deeply regrets that those statements, which have nothing to do with the football club, evoked the dad’s reactions, which are at odds with the truth and are totally out of place. Real Madrid renews its thanks to Mesut Ozil and wishes him well for the future."
Many in Madrid had seen the original ABC story as an attempt by Madrid and Perez to protect themselves from a growing backlash from fans and pundits against the decision to sell Ozil, while signing Gareth Bale at double the German’s price. It was also pointed out that no hints of bad behaviour had appeared when the playmaker had been a regular in the team over the last three campaigns.
Ozil senior also appears to hold this view.
“If Mesut leads such a dissipated life, as they always say, then I wonder: Why did he always play?,” he said. “They want to talk Mesut down, because the fans and some team-mates are angry about his sale.”
ABC have also denied that Perez was a source for its original report, which a clarification published online said came from "diverse sources" none of which was Perez.
"From ABC we state that the president of Real Madrid made no interview or statement about this matter," the clarification said. "We are sorry if the information published has lead to erroneous interpretations."