Carlo Ancelotti has given an explanation for the sale of Mesut Ozil that will surely raise eyebrows in the Real Madrid camp.
Los Blancos shocked world football by jettisoning classy German international midfielder Ozil on transfer deadline day.
To many, it beggared belief that any team could deem a player as talented and impactful as Ozil surplus to requirements, and his instant success at Arsenal is testament to his impressive ability.
Yet while Ancelotti admits that Ozil has more “quality” than Angel Di Maria (who is probably not so pleased to hear it), the Italian insists that in the context of Gareth Bale’s arrival as an auxiliary attacker, it was in Real’s best interests to let Ozil go.
"Yes, that was a football decision," Ancelotti told El Larguero, regarding Ozil’s puzzling departure.
"For the balance of the team I preferred to have Di Maria.
“He has less quality than Ozil but I wanted him for his character and his help for the team.
“With Bale’s arrival I believe it is more important to have Di Maria than Ozil, looking at the balance of the team.”
Ozil contributed to a significant portion of Real Madrid’s goals for the past few seasons, and some critics have pointed to his absence as one of the reasons for the club’s jittery start to the campaign.
But match-by-match they appear to be improving, and while Ancelotti accepts that they are yet to hit their stride, he says his blueprint for success is starting to take shape.
“The plan is very clear, to win playing fantastic football,” he said.
“At the moment we are winning, but our play is not so good. More recently we have improved, because we have paid attention to recovering the ball, which is now done more quickly."