Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted club-record signing Mesut Ozil didn't leave Spanish giants Real Madrid because he wanted an easier life with the north London club.
German playmaker Ozil left Spain for England in a £43 million move on transfer deadline day, with Ozil saying he no longer felt as involved in the plans of Real manager Carlo Ancelotti following Gareth Bale's world record switch to the Bernabeu from Arsenal's arch-rivals Tottenham. However, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez subsequently said Ozil asked to leave because "he couldn't handle the pressure at Madrid".
But Wenger disagreed with Perez's analysis, saying Ozil, who has impressed since joining the Gunners and is set to play his first home match at the Emirates Stadium against Stoke on Sunday, was well capable of handling high pressure matches. "No, I have not seen that at all," Wenger said Friday when asked if Ozil looked like a player wanting a less stressful time than the one he'd endured in Madrid.
"He is 24, he has over 50 caps for Germany and when you play for Germany, you are under a lot of pressure. He won the championship with Real Madrid, and that is a club where there is a lot of pressure, but I could not detect that. Ozil has integrated well, and been well accepted.
"I think he is not at the top physically yet, overall we are very pleased to have him with us, but he will demand a bit of time to adjust to the vigorous body challenges he will face here in the Premier league. Once he has done that, he will be even stronger."
Someone whose game certainly seems to be improving is Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey. The 22-year-old Wales midfielder scored his sixth Gunners' goal in the 2-1 UEFA Champions League win away to Marseille on Wednesday, with memories of the potentially career-ending double-leg break he suffered in a tackle from Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross in February 2010 now well behind him.
Wenger said he was always confident Ramsey, signed for £5 million from Cardiff in 2008, would fulfil his talent. "There is a basic rule in our game - when you have a big injury before the age of 20, you come back and redevelop completely normally, once the psychological damage is out of your head, so I was not too much worried, but you never know how big, how deep the impact is psychologically," the Frenchman said.
"It took him a long time to get completely over that, especially in the duels, in the fights. He had a little resistance to go into the fights for a long time. Now he is over it and also scores goals now, he has improved tremendously on that front. I believe that every test that you pass, you come back mentally stronger. It is a good test as well because in our career you go through periods where people like you a bit less or hate you a bit more and if you can deal with that, it makes you stronger."