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One of the most thrilling transfer stories of recent weeks claimed Mesut Özil would run his contract down at Arsenal in a bid to secure a free transfer to reunite with José Mourinho at Manchester United next summer.

While my sources say this might be a bit far-fetched, it is easy to see why the story makes so much sense.

Özil, like team-mate and Manchester City transfer target Alexis Sánchez, has had a contract on offer from Arsenal close to £300,000-a-week for some time now.

It remains unsigned and while he has divided opinion at Arsenal since his £42million move from La Liga in 2013 it would be tough for Arsène Wenger to see one of his prized assets leave to such a bitter rival for nothing.

But the truth might be hard for Wenger to swallow as it is well known that José Mourinho loves the German midfielder and the feeling is mutual.

The Manchester United manager took Özil to Real Madrid from Werder Bremen in 2010 for around £10million and helped develop the outrageously gifted German midfielder into one of the best players in the world.

Özil feared the Bernabéu stage was too big for him until José convinced him otherwise.

He lacked the self-confidence to match his outrageous ability and thought he could not dominate matches from the start.

But Mourinho never lost faith and played him in over 50 matches in each of his three full seasons in the Spanish capital.

He famously told Özil at the time: “Train hard. Then play. Show me you want it and I'll have you in my team. If you want to get better, I'll make you better.

“Real Madrid isn’t too big a move for you. Real Madrid is the only right move. Trust me. I’ll turn you into a regular player.

“And then all the doors will be open to you. You’ll be able to show the world what you’re capable of. And, believe me, that’s a huge amount.

”He's an ambitious boy with a feeling for magic passes.

“Özil is unique. There is no copy of him, not even a bad copy.

“He is the best No.10 in the world. He makes things very easy for me and for his team-mates with his football vision and the decisions he makes.

“Everyone loves him and sees a bit of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane in him.”

They ended a barren Madrid run by winning the La Liga title together in 2012 and it is possible Özil would still be in Spain had Mourinho not been shown the door a year later.

His inability to challenge in the Champions League let him down and he completed an effective job swap with Carlo Ancelotti and went back to Chelsea.

Wenger Beat Mourinho to Özil

But it was Arsenal who moved quickest to grab the Özil gold when Madrid were looking to sell to finance their audacious move for Tottenham's Gareth Bale.

It was a deal that delighted the Arsenal fans as Özil turned on the skills from the start of his new journey.

The great games were not always sustained, but they would always remind the embittered Tottenham fans of the deal of the summer with their song ‘You sold Bale, we signed Mesut Özil.'

Across London, at Stamford Bridge, there was no way Madrid president Florentino Pérez was going to let the midfield maestro get back into Mourinho's hands.

But when the heat turned on Özil, as his performances waned under Wenger and he was criticised by pundits for lacking the fight to succeed in the Premier League, he always had an ally in José.

Mourinho said he could tell when Özil kicked a ball just by the sound of the unique impact of leather on leather from his boots.

And he always went out of his way to spend time with his former player whenever Chelsea played Arsenal.

I have witnessed the pair exchanging bear hugs and intimate chats on more than one occasion after brutal clashes on the pitch between the London rivals.

And the Portuguese has always spoken up for his ex-player when the flack has flown.

For example, he said, in almost fatherly tones: “If you are expecting Özil to be super aggressive and running miles and miles side to side and to show great enthusiasm and aggressivity [sic] – this is not Mesut.

“If you are waiting for somebody who every time he touches the ball, the ball smiles and every time he makes the pass the ball goes in the right direction with the right speed and intensity – this is Mesut.”

And with Özil yet to feature regularly for Arsenal this season — in many ways they look stronger without him — could this be the ideal time for Mourinho get another one over his arch nemesis, Wenger?

He has shown before he likes to go back to players he knows from the past – look no further than Nemanja Matić and Romelu Lukaku in the current United team.

But he if wanted to supplement or even replace the skills and thrills of Juan Mata, another player he used to have at Chelsea, then Özil would be the perfect fit.

United will not shy away from paying record wages for a player who would costs north of £70million had he not been out of contract so watch this space!

Manchester United


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