(Bloomberg) — Fenerbahce announced it has agreed with Arsenal FC for signing of Mesut Ozil, confirming speculation of the German soccer World Cup winner’s move to Istanbul from London.
The Istanbul-based soccer club said it also has agreed with the player “in principle” for his transfer, according to a filing to the Istanbul stock exchange on Sunday.
The 32-year-old attacking midfielder hasn’t been selected since March to play for Arsenal, where the German earned a reported 350,000 pounds ($479,000) a week. Ozil joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013 for a then club record fee reported to be 42.5 million pounds. He scored 44 goals in 254 appearances, according to the club’s website, and his contract was due to end after the current season. He played 92 times for Germany and was a member of the country’s 2014 world champion team.
Born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, with Turkish roots, Ozil courted controversy when he met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May 2018, facing allegations that he allowed himself to be exploited for the good of Erdogan’s election campaign. Ozil denied this and said his encounter with the Turkish leader was a sign of respect. A few months later, he retired from international soccer, complaining of racist treatment from the German federation, fans and the media.
Ozil married a former Turkish beauty queen in Istanbul in 2019, with Erdogan participating in the ceremony. He recently built a villa in Istanbul’s Uskudar district, where Erdogan also has a home, according to the Demiroren News Agency.
Arsenal distanced itself from comments Ozil, a Muslim, made on Instagram in December 2019, criticizing China’s treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang, the Guardian reported at the time. The club sought to limit any damage caused to its business in China, where its commercial interests include a chain of restaurants, the newspaper said.