Gulf News has released audio of Carlo Ancelotti speaking to its reporter about Mesut Ozil after the Real Madrid coach claimed an interview published by the UAE paper was an "invention."
The Gulf News story became a talking point in Spain when AS picked it up a week after it was first published -- highlighting a quote from Ancelotti apparently admitting it had been a "mistake" to let Ozil leave for Arsenal last summer.
Madrid reacted angrily to these stories, with the club’s chief press officer Carlos Carbajosa texting reporters saying the interview was false and incredible and Ancelotti himself saying at Friday’s news conference that: “It is not the first time, and not the last, that they invent things I say. I am surprised that a newspaper would invent this."
Gulf News quickly responded that afternoon by tweeting to defend its journalist Gautam Bhattacharyya and say that audio existed of the conversation which took place in early January when Madrid were in Qatar for a friendly against Paris Saint Germain.
AS have released this audio [in English] between Ancelotti and Bhattacharyya on its site while also revealing the message from Carbajosa which they claim said: “I am sorry to bother you to deny that Carlo Ancelotti has done an interview with any media outlet called Gulf News or anything similar. And to deny too that he spoke to any media about Mesut Ozil in this way.
"As you know well, the boss has always said the same thing about Ozil’s exit: he has maximum respect for him, had full knowledge of his exit from Real Madrid and is satisfied with the squad he has. Even the minimum of journalistic sense would tell you [that] this supposed interview, and its contents, are totally false, as the majority of you must have known from the first minute.”
It could be argued that the initial Gulf News story -- and AS report -- did misrepresent Ancelotti somewhat, by leaving out some of his answer to a question about whether the team was currently missing its former German playmaker.
“No, because, if we missed him it would mean that we made a mistake when we gave him the possibility to leave the club,” is the full quote on the audio released. “So we choose, well, I choose, to keep [Angel] Di Maria, because Di Maria has less ability than Ozil but he is more a team player.”
This was then printed without the first 10 words -- making it appear as though Ancelotti accepted that he made a "mistake" in selling Ozil.
That sale -- to Arsenal for 42.5 million pounds just as the summer’s transfer window shut -- continues to be controversial among fans and pundits in Madrid, many of whom wanted to keep the Germany international at the time and still claim the team is missing a No. 10 to feed Cristiano Ronaldo and record signing Gareth Bale.
Some in the Spanish capital claim Madrid had to sell either Ozil or Di Maria to balance their books, given debts which are widely reported to be over 500 million euros -- although club president Florentino Perez says the real figure is less than 100 million euros.