Mesut Ozil has offered his first public reaction to being cut adrift of the Fenerbahce first team.

Former Real Madrid and Arsenal playmaker Ozil has been dropped from the senior squad with immediate effect, the Turkish giants announced on Thursday.

Fenerbahce did not explain the reason behind the decision to sideline Ozil, with the same fate befalling Turkey midfielder Ozan Tufan.

Reports in Turkey have claimed the decisions followed disputes involving the players and coach Ismail Kartal, and that neither will train with the first team.

It is unclear at this stage whether there is any way back at the club for either player.

Ozil posted a message on social media on Friday that translated as "The main thing is Fenerbahce", accompanied by the club flag and Turkey's national flag.

German star Ozil was substituted at half-time in Fenerbahce's game against Konyaspor on Sunday, with the team trailing 1-0 at that stage. They recovered to win 2-1, with Tufan entering the game late on as a substitute.

Kartal praised the squad after the Konyaspor game and announced all of his players, aside from those going away on international duty, could have a three-day break.

Fenerbahce signed Ozil from Arsenal in January 2021 after he fell out of favour with the Premier League club. Tufan spent the first half of this season at Watford.

The signing of Ozil was considered a major coup for the Istanbul giants.

Fenerbahce sit third in the Turkish Super Lig this season, two points behind Konyaspor but 17 adrift of runaway leaders Trabzonspor.

Mesut Ozil has been cut from the Fenerbahce first-team squad with immediate effect, the Turkish giants announced on Thursday.

No explanation was immediately forthcoming for the decision to drop former Real Madrid and Arsenal star Ozil from the club's plans.

The same action was taken regarding Turkey midfielder Ozan Tufan.

Fenerbahce issued a statement that read: "Our football A team players Mesut Ozil and Ozan Tufan were excluded from the squad as per the decision taken."

Ozil was substituted at half-time in Fenerbahce's game against Konyaspor on Sunday, with the team trailing 1-0 at that stage. They recovered to win 2-1, with Tufan entering the game late on as a substitute.

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Ozil revealed he had taken a short getaway since that game, with the 33-year-old accompanying his message of "Back in Istanbul after 3 days off" with a picture of himself on an aeroplane.

That followed coach Ismail Kartal praising the squad after the Konyaspor game and announcing all of his players, aside from those going away on international duty, could have a three-day break.

Former Germany international Ozil was a star-name signing when he arrived from Arsenal in January 2021, having fallen out of favour with the Premier League club. Tufan spent the first half of this season at Watford.

Fenerbahce sit third in the Turkish Super Lig this season, two points behind Konyaspor but 17 adrift of runaway leaders Trabzonspor.

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic has warned Alvaro Morata and Matthijs de Ligt to think carefully before joining the Catalan club.

Morata is currently on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, but reports suggest new Blaugrana head coach Xavi wants to further bolster his attack by signing the forward after already acquiring Ferran Torres.

Barca cannot register Torres, or any other potential signings, until they have offloaded players to negotiate salary-cap difficulties, though they have been linked in recent days to numerous attackers.

Club president Joan Laporta seemingly feels his LaLiga outfit are back in the market after telling the world that Barca have returned, with speculation even suggesting a move for Erling Haaland.

However, Pjanic, who is currently on loan at Besiktas, called for caution for any player considering joining his parent club.

He told Tuttosport: "Morata has had an amazing career so far. He played for big clubs like Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Juventus. Sometimes players need motivation, but I would think twice before leaving a club where they feel good.

"Morata knows what to do, Barcelona hired Xavi, a coach who knows the club really well, I don't know the details, but I've always heard that Morata was happy at Juventus even if when Barcelona call you always need to think about it."

 

Pjanic endured a torrid time after leaving the Bianconeri in 2020 for Camp Nou, where he clashed with former Barca boss Ronald Koeman and was subsequently loaned to Besiktas at the start of this season.

He extended his encouragement to consider any potential move carefully to De Ligt, who has been a long-term target of Barca ever since coming through at his boyhood club Ajax.

After initially underwhelming in Turin following his €75million transfer, De Ligt has flourished under Massimiliano Allegri this campaign, ranking second among Juve defenders for minutes played in Serie A (1,293), while he last committed an error leading to goal in his debut 2019-20 season.

Indeed, among defenders to player 700 or more minutes in this year's Serie A, no player has been dribbled past fewer times than De Ligt (just once) but his future remains in doubt.

The centre-back's agent Mino Raiola revealed in December that his client would be open to new challenges away from the Allianz Stadium, yet Pjanic is unsure whether that is the best thing for De Ligt.

"De Ligt has three years left in his contract with Juventus, he has the right commitment, but I don't know if Barcelona are interested," he added.

"He made a great choice by deciding to join Juventus and work with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, he is happy at Juventus and when you are happy, it's better not to leave. We'll see if he will have the motivation to leave."

Juventus are set to have the pair available for their home clash with Napoli on Thursday, currently sitting fifth in the league – 12 points behind leaders Inter ahead of their first game of 2022.

Mario Balotelli believes he can earn a dramatic Italy recall in time for the World Cup play-offs, according to his club boss Vincenzo Montella.

The former Inter, Manchester City and Liverpool striker scored 14 goals in 36 games for the Azzurri before his international career ground to a halt in 2018.

Despite his long-time ally Roberto Mancini being head coach of the Azzurri, there has been little hint of a return to Italy duty since Mancini gave him three caps early in his reign.

Those three appearances were Balotelli's first for Italy since the 2014 World Cup, and he has not been called into a squad since September 2018, with his club career taking him in the meantime from Nice onwards to Marseille, Brescia, Monza and currently Adana Demirspor in Turkey.

Balotelli has scored five Super Lig goals this season for a team who sit eighth in the table after 16 games.

Former Roma frontman Montella, who also played for Italy, has floated the idea that there could yet be another chapter in the story of Balotelli's Azzurri career.

"Balotelli has extraordinary technical qualities. He is a good guy who sometimes goes off a little. But I found him very motivated, and I believe that in his career he has never been as concentrated as this year with us," Montella told Italia 1's Tiki Taka programme.

"He is growing a lot, it is a pleasure to coach him. He has the obsession to return to the national team. He is motivated, he believes in it, he knows he has to work hard, but he knows he has three months to convince Mancini that he knows everything about him, his strengths and weaknesses."

 

Italy won Euro 2020 just five months ago but face a battle to get to the World Cup, knowing they must beat North Macedonia on March 24 to set up a decider against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal or Turkey.

This is because, despite remaining unbeaten in qualifying so far, they finished only second to Switzerland in the group stage. Italy missed out on the 2018 World Cup, so to do so for a second successive time would be a major blow.

Montella said: "Mancini has done an extraordinary job since the beginning of his Azzurri adventure and winning the European Championship was a great thing. Getting to the World Cup will be difficult but Italy, in difficulties, always manage to bring out the best of its potential. I wish and hope that we will be able to qualify."

Newcastle are making plans for the January transfer window following their Saudi ownership takeover.

The Magpies are currently 19th in the Premier League, with three points from eight games and no wins.

Newcastle have been linked with a host of top players at the start of a new era for the club.

 

TOP STORY – OZIL ON NEWCASTLE'S SHORTLIST

Newcastle have shortlisted former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil as one of their transfer targets, according to Ekrem Konur.

Ozil is currently playing in Turkey with Fenerbahce after moving from the Gunners in January.

The Magpies have made no official offer yet, but they see Ozil, along with Fenerbahce goalkeeper Altay Bayindir in their plans.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports that Argentina international Paulo Dybala is set to agree to an extension with Juventus , securing his future with the Turin club until 2026.

- Roma have reignited their interest in Aston Villa's Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi,  according to Football Insider. Villa are ready to let him go in January for £18million (€21m) if Jose Mourinho's side meet their asking price.

- Netherlands international defender Matthijs de Ligt is unhappy with his role at Juventus and his agent has held talks with Barcelona about a potential move, claims Sport.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Spain international Yeremy Pino, who turned 19 on Wednesdayis set to agree a new five-year deal with Villarreal.

- Mundo Deportivo reports that Ansu Fati is close to renewing with Barcelona, with an in-principle agreement set to tie him down until 2026.

Real Madrid's pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain's 22-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe has been widely observed.

Los Blancos could not prise the France striker away from PSG during the last transfer window but may be ready to enter the market in a major way next year.

Carlo Ancelotti took over as Madrid head coach in June and is beginning to build his side.

 

TOP STORY –   REAL CONFIDENT OF HUGE DOUBLE SIGNING

The Sun reports that Real Madrid are confident of signing both Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe next year.

The report claims securing Pogba's signature would help Los Blancos clinch a deal for the Paris Saint-Germain star who is a France team-mate.

Pogba is out of contract with Manchester United at the end of this season, while Mbappe has stalled on an extension with PSG and appears set to exit.

ROUND-UP

- Madrid are also interested in signing Italy international Federico Chiesa from Juventus, reports Fichajes.

- Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Tottenham are keen on Fiorentina's Serbian forward Dusan Vlahovic, but Mundo Deportivo reports La Viola have set a €70million (£59m) asking price for him.

- Roma are willing to offload Everton target Gonzalo Villar in the January transfer window in order to raise funds to move for Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria, claims Tuttomercatoweb.

- Liverpool are leading the race to sign highly sought-after Belgian talent Jeremy Doku who is currently with Rennes, reports RTL.

- Sky Sports reports that Atletico Madrid are eager to complete new deals for Jan Oblak and Thomas Lemar, with talks under way.

- Tottenham's Ryan Sessegnon could be offered a fresh start by Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, according to Takvim.

Barcelona have reached an agreement with Turkish club Kayserispor to sign attacking midfielder Emre Demir on a five-year deal running to 2027.

The Catalan giants will pay an initial €2million for the 17-year-old and have set his buyout clause at €400m.

Demir will remain with Super Lig side Kayserispor for the remainder of 2021-22 before linking up with Barcelona B from the start of next season.

He has already featured 31 times at senior level and made history in November 2019 when becoming the youngest scorer in the Turkish top flight at 15 years, nine months and 25 days old.

The youngster, who previously had a trial at Barca's La Masia academy in 2017, will become the third Turkish player to sign for the Catalans after Rustu Recber and Arda Turan.

Miralem Pjanic accused Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman of disrespecting him after departing the LaLiga club for Turkish champions Besiktas.

Barca outcast and Bosnia-Herzegovina international Pjanic will spend the season on loan with Besiktas following one poor campaign at Camp Nou.

Pjanic arrived at Barca in 2020 for a reported initial fee of €60million in a peculiar swap deal that saw Arthur go the other way to Juventus for an estimated €72m, but he failed to convince and fell down the pecking order in the second half of 2020-21.

After being frozen out by Koeman at Barca, Pjanic reflected on his time with the Spanish giants.

"The coach, yes," Pjanic told Marca when asked if he was respected at Barca.

"I couldn't get used to the situation I faced last year. I knew I didn't want it. I'm a player. I love playing football, this is what makes me happy.

"I always wanted to play for Barca but I didn't expect the situation to get so complicated. 

"There was a point that I was playing less, things were getting complicated. And when I played it was difficult physically and mentally to be well, because it was killing my confidence, because I had no communication with [Koeman]. 

"It was very strange, because a coach is the one who says who plays and who doesn't, but there are different ways to do things. I am a player who can accept everything but I would always like to be told things face to face. Not as if nothing happened and I was 15 years old."

Pjanic played 30 games across all competitions but only 13 were starts, with just four of those coming after the turn of the year as Ronald Koeman's lack of faith became ever clearer.

He did not score or assist a single goal all season, making him the only outfield player who played at least 170 minutes for the club last term to not have one goal involvement.

Pressed on what he thought the reason for Koeman's snub was, Pjanic added: "I've honestly asked myself a lot of times, wondering what I did wrong. Maybe he didn't like that I said I wanted to play more public.

"But any coach would say 'okay, this is a competition and I like to hear that'. That might be it, but I'd have liked him to tell me to my face that I wasn't for him. It didn't exist though and I don't understand him. It's complicated because it's the first time it's happened to me and I've never seen behaviour like that before."

Asked if he regretted joining Barca from Juve, Pjanic said: "No, never. Things happen in life, and I've always fought through my career. I'm ambitious, competitive, I've reached the level of Barcelona and Juventus.

"I know I can play for those teams, I just wasn't given a chance."

Barcelona have finally managed to offload Miralem Pjanic as the Bosnia-Herzegovina international joined Besiktas on loan after one poor season in LaLiga.

Pjanic arrived at Camp Nou in 2020 for a reported initial fee of €60million in a peculiar swap deal that saw Arthur go the other way to Juventus for an estimated €72m.

While most saw the exchange as bizarre on Barca's part, even with Arthur becoming an unpopular figure among supporters, football finance experts at the time outlined that the deal would potentially benefit both clubs in terms of their accounting.

But ultimately that proved to be about as far as the positives went for Barca, as Pjanic failed to convince and fell behind youth player Ilaix Moriba in the pecking order in the second half of 2020-21.

Pjanic played 30 games across all competitions but only 13 were starts, with just four of those coming after the turn of the year as Ronald Koeman's lack of faith became ever clearer.

He did not score or assist a single goal all season, making him the only outfield player who played at least 170 minutes for the club last term to not have one goal involvement.

Barca were open about their willingness to offload Pjanic in the close-season, particularly in their face of crippling debts that have surpassed €1.3billion and led to significant player departures in the past few months.

He was only named on the bench for one of Barca's first three league games this term, with youngster Gavi and Nico Gonzalez the latest academy products to move ahead of Pjanic.

Barca's brief statement to confirm the deal did not even wish the player luck in his next chapter, perhaps highlighting the ill-feeling surrounding him after a disappointing season.

The statement read: "Barcelona and Besiktas have reached an agreement for the loan of the player Miralem Pjanic until June 30, 2022.

"Pjanic arrived at the Camp Nou last summer from Juventus, where he had been since 2016. The Bosnian international has made 30 appearances for FC Barcelona."

Michy Batshuayi has extended his Chelsea contract until 2023 and joined Besiktas on loan for the 2021-22 campaign.

Batshuayi, who joined the Blues in 2016, has spent much of his time at Chelsea out on loan.

He thrived with Borussia Dortmund in 2018, though struggled at Valencia the following season, switching to Crystal Palace on a temporary basis for the back half of 2018-19.

The Belgium forward was a target for Palace in the following transfer window, but remained at Chelsea. He made 24 appearances, though few of them were starts, scoring seven goals.

Batshuayi did return to Selhurst Park last season, though scored just two goals from 18 Premier League appearances for the Eagles.

The 27-year-old had entered the final year of his Chelsea deal, but that has now been renewed, with an immediate season-long loan to Turkish champions Besiktas confirmed on Wednesday.

"Very very happy to join Besiktas," Batshuayi, who received a huge welcome when he landed in Istanbul, tweeted.

"An incredible opportunity for me and I'm already looking to play. Thank you to all the fans for the crazy welcome at Istanbul. See you at the stadium very soon."

Batshuayi slipped further down the pecking order at Chelsea upon the arrival of his compatriot Romelu Lukaku, who re-joined the European Champions in a reported £97.5million (€115m) deal from Serie A champions Inter last week.

He is the third centre-forward to leave the club this transfer window, with Chelsea having sold Olivier Giroud to Milan, while Tammy Abraham was unveiled as a Roma player on Tuesday.

Thomas Tuchel still has plenty of high-quality attacking options at his disposal, with Lukaku spearheading a forward line that also includes Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic, with support provided from midfielders Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Galatasaray defender Marcao is facing a lengthy ban for headbutting and punching team-mate Kerem Akturkoglu during a Super Lig victory at Giresunspor on Monday.

Brazilian centre-back Marcao confronted winger Akturkoglu during the second half of the game when his side were leading 2-0.

An enraged Marcao headbutted Akturkoglu before swinging for the 22-year-old Turkey international twice.

Marcao was given his marching orders following a VAR review and could reportedly face a 10-match ban.

Galatasaray manager Fatih Terim said after his side saw out a 2-0 win: "The club will do what is necessary in their own way.

"Marcao will apologise to Kerem and the rest of the team for his behaviour."

Mario Balotelli has completed a move to Turkish Super Lig side Adana Demirspor.

The 30-year-old striker spent 2020-21 with Monza in Serie B, where he scored six goals in 14 league appearances.

The former Manchester City forward has now joined the ambitious side from Adana, who secured promotion to Turkey's top flight last season.

The news was announced via a video released through the club's Twitter account.

Balotelli has now been signed to five different clubs since 2019, having spent three years with Nice after leaving Liverpool on a permanent deal in 2016.

The 36-cap Italy international will link up with former Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler and ex-Montpellier star Younes Belhanda at the New Adana Stadium.

Balotelli was a three-time Serie A winner with Inter and was part of Jose Mourinho's treble-winning squad in 2009-10.

He then joined City, winning the FA Cup in 2010-11 and the Premier League title in 2011-12, before signing for Milan.

A single-season return to England with Liverpool came in 2014-15 before he went back to the Rossoneri on loan, after which he moved to Ligue 1.

Could Luis Suarez return to Liverpool, where he spent three and half seasons from 2011 to 2014?

The Uruguayan forward has been a key part of Atletico Madrid's LaLiga title push this term, with 19 league goals.

The Reds are reportedly keen to bolster their forward options, with Suarez on their list.

 

TOP STORY – REDS PREPARING SUAREZ OFFER

Liverpool are interesting in the return of Suarez this off-season and are preparing an offer for the Atletico Madrid forward, according to Fichajes.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp reportedly wants to add experience to his front line and 34-year-old Suarez fits the bill.

Suarez scored 82 goals in 133 appearances for the Reds in his previous stint before joining Barcelona.

ROUND-UP

- Spanish outlet Cope claims that Real Madrid are not contemplating a move for Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo despite widespread speculation of a return. The report says Madrid are focused on the future rather than a veteran player whose career is winding down.

- Barcelona are planning to release Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho this off-season due to their financial issues, allowing them to retain young talent Pedri, Ilaix Moriba and Ansu Fati, according to El Confidencial.

- On the topic of Barcelona, Sport is claiming the Catalans have approved the signings of Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool and Memphis Depay from Lyon and are awaiting validation from their new board.

- Diego Costa has reached an agreement to join Benfica as a free agent, according to Mundo Deportivo. Costa left Atletico Madrid in December and returned to his native Brazil.

- Manchester United are considering a move to sign 24-year-old Villarreal defender Pau Torres in the off-season, according to the Manchester Evening News.

- Galatasaray, Flamengo or Marseille are the primary options to be Arturo Vidal's next home as he is set to leave Inter, reports Calciomercato.

Mesut Ozil has completed a move to Fenerbahce after negotiating his departure from Arsenal.

World Cup winner Ozil, once Arsenal's record signing, had been excluded from Mikel Arteta's first-team plans this season and departs after seven and a half years with the Premier League club.

The former Germany midfielder was under contract until the end of the current campaign but reached an agreement for an early termination, clearing him to sign elsewhere.

Fener have now confirmed the arrival of Ozil, with Arsenal announcing the playmaker's departure on their official website.

In a statement in the Gunners' announcement, Ozil said: "I'd like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years.

"The support I have felt from the team and fans during my time here has been truly incredible and something I will always be grateful for.

"Together we won trophies for the first time in years and created memories that will last a lifetime.

"The Arsenal fans will forever remain in my heart. I'd like to thank Edu Gaspar for helping bring about a professional and dignified solution in the past few days, and I wish everyone at the club the best in their attempt to continue to bring Arsenal back to the top, where we belong."

Having joined from Real Madrid in September 2013, Ozil made 184 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring 33 goals and contributing 54 assists.

He was a key part of Arsene Wenger's squad that finished second in the 2015-16 Premier League season, while he also started in the FA Cup final triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

However, the 32-year-old had increasingly become a peripheral figure in recent years, initially under former Gunners boss Unai Emery before being left out entirely by Arteta. 

His final Arsenal appearance came on March 3, 2020, when he played 89 minutes in a 1-0 win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium.

Although he was twice named on the bench when the 2019-20 season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break, the 32-year-old was an unused substitute against both Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton in June.

"Mesut's achievements at Arsenal are undisputed," Arteta said. "It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him.

"His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins.

"These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce."

Mesut Ozil has completed a move to Fenerbahce after negotiating his departure from Arsenal.

World Cup winner Ozil, once Arsenal's record signing, had been excluded from Mikel Arteta's first-team plans this season and departs after seven and a half years with the Premier League club.

The former Germany midfielder was under contract until the end of the current campaign but reached an agreement for an early termination, clearing him to sign elsewhere.

Fener have now confirmed the arrival of Ozil, with Arsenal announcing the playmaker's departure on their official website.

In a statement in the Gunners' announcement, Ozil said: "I'd like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years.

"The support I have felt from the team and fans during my time here has been truly incredible and something I will always be grateful for.

"Together we won trophies for the first time in years and created memories that will last a lifetime.

"The Arsenal fans will forever remain in my heart. I'd like to thank Edu Gaspar for helping bring about a professional and dignified solution in the past few days, and I wish everyone at the club the best in their attempt to continue to bring Arsenal back to the top, where we belong."

Having joined from Real Madrid in September 2013, Ozil made 184 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring 33 goals and contributing 54 assists.

He was a key part of Arsene Wenger's squad that finished second in the 2015-16 Premier League season, while he also started in the FA Cup final triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

However, the 32-year-old had increasingly become a peripheral figure in recent years, initially under former Gunners boss Unai Emery before being left out entirely by Arteta. 

His final Arsenal appearance came on March 3, 2020, when he played 89 minutes in a 1-0 win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium.

Although he was twice named on the bench when the 2019-20 season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break, the 32-year-old was an unused substitute against both Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton in June.

"Mesut's achievements at Arsenal are undisputed," Arteta said. "It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him.

"His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins.

"These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce."

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