Arsenal playmaker Mesut Özil has revealed he was subject of a £100m ($125.33m, ¥863.2m) offer to move to the Chinese Super League during the last summer transfer window. The Germany World Cup winner is approaching the final 12 months of his contract at the Emirates Stadium and could be offloaded at the end of the campaign – but has revealed he could have departed a year ago.
Clubs from China have dominated the transfer market in recent months, clinching deals for big-name players from Europe including Oscar from Chelsea, Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg and former Shakhtar Donetsk winger Alex Teixeira. Wayne Rooney and Diego Costa have been linked with becoming the latest arrivals in Asia as the league looks to enhance their standing in world football.
Attempts to improve the quality of players applying their trade in China came last summer when an unnamed club tried to lure World Cup winner Özil from Arsenal in what would have been the biggest deal secured by the division. The 28-year-old had been taking advice from former Gunner Robert Pires with regards to aspects of his career – including his physicality – but admits he never had to consult with the Frenchman despite the huge financial offer.
"When I got an offer from China last summer, however, I didn't need his [Pires's] advice because the offer was too absurd," Özil said in his forthcoming autobiography Gunning for Greatness. "The Chinese were prepared to pay me £100m net over a period of five years. A fairy tale amount of money that went beyond the limits of my imagination.
"In spite of this, it took me less than three minutes to decline the offer. My agent, Erkut, called me to let me know about the bid. He said: 'I think we're agreed what we're going to do, aren't we? You won't consider it, will you?' 'I'm nowhere near the end of my career,' I replied. 'I still want to win titles with Arsenal. I don't want to play in China no matter how much they're willing to pay. No way'.
"And so the matter was settled. In the knowledge, by the way, that Chinese president Xi Jinping is a fan. On one occasion Arsenal's managing director came to tell us that the president had contacted the club asking for my jersey with a dedication. In fact, he wanted a Germany shirt and we promised to sort it out."