In a world record fee of £85 million (100 million euros) at the time, Gareth Bale broke the hearts of Tottenham Hotspur supporters around the world to secure a move to Spanish giants, Real Madrid, in the summer of 2013 (BBC).
In the same window, Arsenal were working hard to secure the signature of Germany international, Mesut Ozil.
After protracted negotiations that went late into transfer deadline day, Ozil was signed for a fee of £42.4 million (The BBC).
But what is even more interesting is the narrative that surrounds these transfers.
In an exclusive interview with Goal, Arsene Wenger’s former transfer negotiator, Dick Law has revealed how the last week of negotiations was filled with secret meetings and a mischievous plan to keep Spurs out of the loop.
Law said: “Real Madrid, for all of their firepower, really stretched themselves when they bought Bale.
“They paid an extraordinary amount of money for him and they gave him an extraordinary contract, what that meant was they needed to sell somebody.”
This opened a window for Arsenal and Law to enter negotiations for Ozil.
“We sat down with Jose Angel, who said that Ancelotti didn’t want to sell either of Benzema or Di Maria, but he would sell Ozil.
“Long story short, Arsene was interested as we needed that type of player in midfield. But we didn’t know where Ozil stood.”
After conversations with both Real Madrid and Arsenal, Ozil’s father and advisor flew over to London where talks started to progress with only 48-hours of the transfer window remaining.
There was only one thing, or person, holding up the move. That was Daniel Levy himself. With time running out Levy had yet to sanction the move for Bale to join Real Madrid.
This was when the cunning plan started to take shape.
The Cunning Plan:
After finalising the deal with Madrid, Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s Chief executive calls Law the day before the north London Derby that was due to take place at the Emirates.
“We had finalised a deal with Madrid,” said Law. “Ivan was there and I was now in Munich with Ozil – and this was literally the morning of the Tottenham match when Ivan calls me.
“He said that he couldn’t get back to London for the match because he was finishing up the agreement and that one of us needed to be in the directors’ box or else Daniel Levy was going to get very nervous.
“Jose Angel had told Ivan that Levy had called him and said the one last condition of the Bale deal was Madrid couldn’t sell any players to Arsenal.
“Ivan’s response was that Levy was bluffing because he’d already spent the Bale money. But he still said to me that we couldn’t take a chance and asked if I could get from Munich to London to be in the directors’ box because Tottenham were starting to think something was going down.
“So, I got a flight at 11am, changed on the way and when I walked into the directors’ box I saw Franco Baldini and Levy and they asked what I was doing. I said it was the derby, I wasn’t going to miss it.”
What followed was a series of events where Law tried to keep the deal under wraps by hushing a former Arsenal player and stopped Manchester United from hijacking the deal by effectively body guarding Ozil’s father and advisor in a bar at the Four Seasons…
“It was terrific. Between the transfer fee and the salary, it was the largest deal in the history of Arsenal” finished Law.
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