German World Cup winner signs for ‘Erdogan FC’
Former Arsenal and Germany star Mesut Ozil has joined Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir, who are dubbed 'Erdogan FC' in reference to their ties to national leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
An announcement on the 33-year-old's next destination was made just 29 minutes after he had been released by Fenerbahce despite Ozil blasting reports of him leaving Istanbul's cross-town rivals as "fake news" last month.
Ozil joined Fenerbahce from Arsenal in 2021, much to the delight of Gunners fans such as Piers Morgan who had accused the playmaker of being workshy while pocketing mammoth wages.
A year on, however, Ozil had his Fenerbahce contract canceled after first falling out of favor with interim coach Ismail Kartal.
Kartal didn't find Ozil's fitness up to scratch, and new coach Jorge Jesus further excluded him from the first team fold which resulted in Ozil not appearing for the club since March 20.
Reports have suggested that Ozil's Fenerbahce deal was terminated by mutual consent, and he has now joined the Turkish Super Lig runners-up who lost out on the title to Trabzonspor when they claimed their first top flight crown in 38 years last term.
Ozil was unveiled in a series of Basaksehir social media posts, and the star himself has unfollowed Fenerbahce and now looks to turn over a new leaf at the club dubbed 'Erdogan FC'.
Istanbul Basaksehir is nicknamed as such due to Erdogan's portrait hanging up at the club's training ground and the Basaksehir neighborhood being a stronghold for his Justice and Development Party.
Ozil, who was born to Turkish immigrants in Germany, has a well-documented relationship with the Turkish leader who was the best man at Ozil's wedding in 2019.
Ozil and Erdogan are said to have been friends for a decade, and a meeting with him alongside other German-Turk players Ilkay Gundogan and Cenk Tosun ahead of the 2018 World Cup caused controversy in Germany due to Erdogan's perceived anti-German policies.
Ozil quit the German national team after they flopped at the tournament in Russia, accusing football officials and the media of racism and making him a scapegoat for the team's failings.
Ozil leaves Fenerbahce having played 36 matches which yielded nine goals and three assists but no silverware.