By Heiko Lütkehus
The current transfer period is not what Klaus Allofs, manager of Werder Bremen since 1999, calls a satisfying situation. Not just because of the fact that the squad`s “Fantastic Four” Marko Marin, Tim Wiese, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil missed almost the entire preparation phase for the upcoming season. Even though most team coaches hate to improvise in the summer break, Thomas Schaaf must have expected to prepare the team without the German World Cup Heroes. What really brings the sweat on Allofs` brow is the amount of requests from European giants like Real Madrid, Manchester United or FC Barcelona for his key players – especially Mesut Özil. Facing the Champions League Qualification Knockout Games against the 4th of the last Serie A season Sampdoria Genoa on next Wednesday, Klaus Allofs is once again forced to keep his cool in order to guarantee the benefit for both his club and Mesut Özil (photo).
Mesut Özil`s development over the past few years was doubtlessly impressive. When Werder Bremen signed him in January 2008, nobody really seemed to understand why Allofs invested nearly €5 million for the Enfant Terrible of his former club FC Schalke 04. His reputation of being a money-grubbing egoist preceded him all over Germany. Nevertheless, the management of SV Werder took the unique chance and offered Özil a 4-year contract. In retrospect all critics must admit that it could not have worked out better for both sides. When Diego left Bremen last summer for the Juventus Turin, no discussion about the replacement of the Brazilian playmaker came up. Özil steadily improved his scoring statistics as well as his physical presence on the field. International experts recognized his tremendous skills at the U21 European Championship in Sweden in 2009 after Özil led the German squad with an outstanding performance to winning in the final game against England.
Nowadays, Özil is said to be the new Lionel Messi – his teammates in Bremen already gave him this nickname years ago. His stunning match performances at the World Cup 2010 in South Africa helped him to become famous all over the globe. But how could a cautious manager like Allofs convince such a player to stay at his home club when the media pushes the hype by praising Özil to the skies? The transfer window closes in two weeks, so there is not much time left for the interested clubs to sign Özil. Especially Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are reported to fight for the German star with roots in Turkey, whose current market value has been estimated at 16 million €.
The management of Werder Bremen needs to push for a prompt decision. Allofs would love to extend the contract with Özil to avoid a loss of the player next summer without earning a transfer fee, but the player is obviously not interested in staying at the Weserstadion in Bremen. If Özil plays against Sampdoria Genoa on Wednesday, he will not be allowed to play for other Champions League clubs in this season. Apparently the next days promise to bring final answers to all questions.