Real Madrid's key figures were singing off the same hymn sheet on Friday, as Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane both accused Mesut Ozil of taking the easy way out by joining Arsenal.
Madrid have been extremely vocal in what has threatened to become a smear campaign against their former player, but Friday marks the first time boss Ancelotti has aimed a public slur at Ozil.
Lucas Navarrete of SB Nation provides the Italian’s quotes:
Many people have spoken about this, and I want to do it as well. [Ozil] said that he lacked the confidence [of the club], but we played three games, and he started two of them.
Maybe he saw he was going to have competition, and he asked for a way out.
Ozil became available as a result of Gareth Bale’s world-record transfer to Madrid, and Ancelotti clearly feels that the German international did not have the necessary heart to fight for his place.
Both Ozil and Angel di Maria were strongly linked to Arsenal, but Madrid were hit by surprise criticism from fans and players when the former’s deal to North London was completed.
The propaganda machine has seemingly gone into overdrive since, led by president Florentino Perez, who reportedly labelled Ozil unprofessional—questioning his off-field activity to Spanish news outlet ABC, per 101 Great Goals.
Madrid have since forced ABC to publish a retraction, insisting Perez never made such comments, according to Chirs Kvesa of Goal.com.
Ancelotti has now had his say, claiming Ozil lacks fight, which came hours after assistant Zidane hinted at a similar accusation—speaking on Madrid’s official channel, per ESPN:
Ozil decided to leave. He is a good player who has given us so much, so we wish him well.
There are players who have responded with strength and will to fight for a place, but not everyone reacted the same.
[Angel] Di Maria responded well and wanted to fight.
It appears Madrid will not rest until the sale of Ozil is justified, although that ultimately will rest on the performance of the team and Bale specifically.
Certainly the players of Real still need some convincing over Ozil's sale, after Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Sami Khedira all expressed dismay at his departure.
Ramos even said that Ozil “would be the very last player who [he] would sell from Real Madrid,” per Paul Collins of the Daily Mail, while Ronaldo commented that he was "angry" that his chief supplier of goals had been taken.