Former Arsenal cult hero Jens Lehmann has threatened to spark debate by claiming the £42.4 million fee paid for Mesut Ozil was a “much better” deal than Real Madrid got by splashing £85 million on Gareth Bale.
Lehmann, forever a controversial figure when between the sticks for Arsenal, is not even convinced Ozil is worth his own transfer fee but insisted to German website Spox that Bale is not twice as good as the man he replaced.
John Cross of the Daily Mirror provides the translation:
In all honesty, Arsenal paid too much for Mesut Ozil, but that's because Gareth Bale went to Real Madrid for so much more money. Nobody is worth that much.
The Ozil deal was much better. I don't see a €50m difference between the two players. That's how that market works when a club like Real Madrid loses the plot.
Bale is now the standard by which every player in world football must be judged after becoming the world’s most expensive footballer during the summer.
His fee, widely believed to have been £85 million—as reported by BBC Sport—provides a tangible figure by which to rate others.
Ozil’s price tag of £42.4 million ranks him—in monetary terms at least—as only half the player Bale is.
Tottenham fans, meanwhile, may allow themselves a chuckle that Christian Eriksen’s £11 million fee rates him as one-eighth of their former star—perhaps not even enough to buy Bale’s left leg.
Who is the better player?
Lehmann knows Ozil well from watching his career develop with the German national side. The pair never featured in the same team but Ozil has already earned 49 caps at the age of 24, scoring 15 goals.
Bale, also 24, has a similar record for Wales, netting 11 goals in 42 caps. However, he lacks Ozil’s experience at the highest ends of both world and European competition.
Ozil won La Liga with Real Madrid and was tied for the most assists at the 2010 World Cup. What he lacks in speed, agility and shooting power against Bale, he makes up for with a cushioned first touch, vision and a razor-sharp footballing mind.
Real Madrid’s fans let their feelings be known when they chanted Ozil’s name at Bale’s unveiling, less a protest against the new man and more a salute to the quality of the player he was replacing.
Lehmann’s assertion that Arsenal got the better deal is difficult to argue against—few would claim Ozil is half the player Bale is.
After three assists in his opening two games, Arsene Wenger might even feel he would have been happier to pay more for the softly spoken schemer.