Wednesday Kickoff: Özil wants to stay at Real Madrid; Arsenal progress to UCL group stage at heavy price; and more

MesutOzilRealMadrid2 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Despite the rumors of a potential move north to England or back to his native Germany, Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Özil has reiterated his desire to stay at the Spanish club.

Speaking at an Adidas event, Özil referenced his contract, which runs through 2016, as one of the reasons of him staying with the club, as well as playing for newly appointed assistant coach Zinedine Zidane, one of the German international’s idols.

“I’m staying at Real Madrid,” Özil said to AS. “I have a contract until 2016, I feel good and I have great harmony with my teammates. I want to have a lot of success here. When it is said in the press that there are interesting offers for me, I say that I have a contract with Real Madrid and I’ll stay here.

“I feel good, I have the confidence of the coach and have goals to achieve. Each of us has a role to play in achieving these titles, which is of the reasons why I want to stay here. ”

Özil attracted controversy on Monday when he stormed into the locker room after being substituted in the second half of Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Granada. Last season, Özil started just 23 of 32 matches played in La Liga, scoring nine goals.

Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:

ARSENAL PROGRESS TO UCL GROUP STAGE AT HEAVY PRICE, FENERBAHCE BANNED

For the 16th consecutive season, Arsene Wenger has guided Arsenal to the UEFA Champions League group stage.

The Gunners finished off Turkish side Fenerbahce on Tuesday evening, 2-0 (5-0 agg), to gain entry to the main part of the tournament and help make the club more attractive to potential transfer targets who want Champions League soccer. Despite the win, Arsenal paid a heavy price as winger Lukas Podolski was ruled out for 21 days due to a hamstring injury picked up just after halftime. The injury will more than likely keep him out of the Germany squad for their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers as well.

Also qualifying for the Champions League group stage on Tuesday was Schalke 04, FC Basel, Austria Wien, and Steaua Bucuresti.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected Fenerbahce’s appeal against UEFA’s two-year ban for match-fixing, keeping them out of European competitions until the 2015-2016 season.

HODGSON INCLUDES TWO UNCAPPED PLAYERS IN ENGLAND SQUAD

Following some underwhelming results in qualifying, England’s place in the World Cup 2014 isn’t as sure of a thing as it once was.

Manager Roy Hodgson has selected in his squad for upcoming qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine a whole host of regulars, including Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, and Joe Hart, but Hodgson also took the time to invite three youngsters aboard, two of whom have no senior caps to their names.

Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, an 18-year-old, has been recalled to the squad while Everton’s 19-year-old Ross Barkley and Tottenham 22-year-old Andros Townsend could both make their first ever appearance for the Three Lions at the senior level, after impressive for the youth sides.

QUICK KICKS

Youngster Cristian Tello is the second Barcelona player in as many days to sign a new contract through 2018, with a buyout clause set for €25 million. (REPORT)

Chelsea have confirmed the signing of Anzhi midfielder Willian, signing a five-year contract after having his conditional work permit accepted. (REPORT)

Paul Pogba, who has been inquired for by Arsenal, has been compared by his agent Mino Raiola to a Salvador Dali painting, to which Raiola says is worth twice as much as Gareth Bale. (REPORT)

With Erik Lamela seemingly on his way to Tottenham, AS Roma have acquired his replacement, Serbian midfielder Adem Ljajic from Fiorentina, for a total of €13 million. (REPORT)

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque is considering picking Atletico Madrid duo Koke and Diego Costa for his next national team squad due to injuries to Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez. Costa would have to file his one-time switch, having represented Brazil twice in friendly matches. (REPORT)

Brazilian club Botafogo have sold one of their top youngsters, Vitinho, to CSKA Moscow for €10 million, angering the supporters. (REPORT)

UEFA has warned Kazakhstan side Shakhter Karagandy ahead of today’s Champions League match to not continue their tradition of slaughtering a sheep in sacrifice before a match inside the stadium. (REPORT)

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What do you think about these developments? Do you see Özil staying at Real Madrid? Do you believe Podolski can come back in time to play for Germany? What do you think of the England call-ups?

Share your thoughts below.

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37 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Özil wants to stay at Real Madrid; Arsenal progress to UCL group stage at heavy price; and more

  1. Clyde Frog says:

    Shakhtar 0-1 PETA

  2. Iggy says:

    Interesting that England calls in such young players with very limited first team professional minutes.

    • patrick says:

      the difference between US youngster being called in and ENgland youngsters, is that they have been training at a higher level, and being loaned out (see, Andros Townsend) for years, so while he may only have a couple of Tottenham starts, he’s been playing pro for 3-4 years now. Raheem Sterling made 38 appearances last year too, so he’s not exactly green

  3. Jacknut says:

    Apparently, Celtic won’t allow them to sacrifice one at Parkhead. Cue joke about Scots and sheep here.

  4. Jacknut says:

    Thinking about this a little more, UEFA will threaten a club over a little mutton, but racism produces hand-wringing and not much else?

  5. RK says:

    Roma benefiting from the Tottenham windfall, selling Eric Lamela for 30M pounds.

  6. biff says:

    What is Roy Hodgson’s problem, anyway? Why is he announcing his roster ahead of weekend games, as are most other national team coaches, instead of being cool like Jurgen Klinsmann and waiting until the Monday after the games. Other coaches seem to be more organized with a firmer grasp of their depth charts that will not be swayed by a positive or negative performance by a player in the final game before camp. What does Klinsmann think he is gaining from the last weekend of games before a camp? Is he really going to delete a player who had been playing well but had an off game on the last weekend? Or reward a player who had been week the previous five games but improved on the last weekend? I don’t get it. Ridiculous.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      i believe bob bradley did this, too. wonder if it’s more a ussf thing, than the individual coach.

    • Ando says:

      Not defending Klinsmann, but I think the reason US Soccer waits till the last minute to announce rosters has to do with injuries, especially with they European contingent. I think they think it’s bad to announce a roster and then change the roster afterwards. I’m with you though, it is not the worst thing in the world to announce the roster before they show up.

      • biff says:

        Yeah, that would be a possible reason. But invariably, even waiting until Monday Klinsmann has to redo the roster anyway. There was even the total fiasco in May of 2012 when Klinsmann waited until the last minute to avoid this and then Donovan flew to camp (was it Florida?) to prove he was injured and there were other problems, I think with some of the fullbacks. In other words, if that’s the reason, it is not helping at all. Plus it puts players and clubs under Klinsmann’s secrecy rule that also does not really work and the whole thing makes Klinsmann look ridiculous and on a power-trip and disorganized and like he can’t make up his mind, that he needs the pressure of ticking clock deadline to finally choose the last few players.

        It would interesting for a sports reporter to ask Klinsmann what he gains by doing this? That is, if Klinsmann would actually answer the question.

  7. THomas says:

    When you look at England’s lineup, I can’t believe they don’t have more international success.

  8. Nate Dollars says:

    someone’s going to have to explain to me what the big deal is about them killing a sheep before a game. i’m not saying there’s not a good reason for uefa to forbid it; i just have no idea what it would be.

  9. Jacknut says:

    Oh and screw the Seattle Outlaws

    • Nate Dollars says:

      +1

      does columbus not have an AO chapter? and if they do, how embarrassing is it to have to ask someone else to organize your songs and chants (assuming you’re okay with having cheerleaders in the first place)?

  10. Reid says:

    Dan,
    While Ives is still on holiday, make the executive decision and switch the comments back to chronological order.
    The old school followers of Ives will back you.

  11. Adi from Oregon says:

    Maybe Ozil needs to learn some humility or he will find himself on the bench more often. I also noticed his selfish play in the last Germany friendly when he lost the ball dribbling against 3 or 4 players a number of times.

  12. MiamiAl says:

    So Jermaine Jones got a double yellow in yesterday’s game. I didnt get to watch it. What happened? I hope he is getting that out of his system. We dont need any red cards during qualifying…

  13. MLSsnob says:

    It’s amazing how many great players become surplus to requirements at the bigger clubs. I’d kill to have guys like Wayne Rooney or Ozil or Kaka or Alexis Sanchez on my team.

  14. kcee says:

    Fenerbahce embarrassed themselves in the 2nd half, I would be embarrassed if I was a supporter. Ref was on tranqs or something for not dropping more cards in the 2nd half. Should have at least been a red in there. They seemed to be specifically going after Wilshire, no card on that body check wtf ? Ref should be checked out too something was up.

  15. ThaDeuce says:

    I haven’t watched Ozil, I mean really watched him, since his break out World Cup (2006?) when he looked like a star born. Soooo… What happened, and how much better is he currently than our own Mikey Bradley?