Wednesday Kickoff: Özil wants to stay at Real Madrid; Arsenal progress to UCL group stage at heavy price; and more

Wednesday Kickoff: Özil wants to stay at Real Madrid; Arsenal progress to UCL group stage at heavy price; and more

South American Soccer

Wednesday Kickoff: Özil wants to stay at Real Madrid; Arsenal progress to UCL group stage at heavy price; and more

MesutOzilRealMadrid2 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Despite the rumors of a potential move north to England or back to his native Germany, Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Özil has reiterated his desire to stay at the Spanish club.

Speaking at an Adidas event, Özil referenced his contract, which runs through 2016, as one of the reasons of him staying with the club, as well as playing for newly appointed assistant coach Zinedine Zidane, one of the German international’s idols.

“I’m staying at Real Madrid,” Özil said to AS. “I have a contract until 2016, I feel good and I have great harmony with my teammates. I want to have a lot of success here. When it is said in the press that there are interesting offers for me, I say that I have a contract with Real Madrid and I’ll stay here.

“I feel good, I have the confidence of the coach and have goals to achieve. Each of us has a role to play in achieving these titles, which is of the reasons why I want to stay here. ”

Özil attracted controversy on Monday when he stormed into the locker room after being substituted in the second half of Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Granada. Last season, Özil started just 23 of 32 matches played in La Liga, scoring nine goals.

Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:

ARSENAL PROGRESS TO UCL GROUP STAGE AT HEAVY PRICE, FENERBAHCE BANNED

For the 16th consecutive season, Arsene Wenger has guided Arsenal to the UEFA Champions League group stage.

The Gunners finished off Turkish side Fenerbahce on Tuesday evening, 2-0 (5-0 agg), to gain entry to the main part of the tournament and help make the club more attractive to potential transfer targets who want Champions League soccer. Despite the win, Arsenal paid a heavy price as winger Lukas Podolski was ruled out for 21 days due to a hamstring injury picked up just after halftime. The injury will more than likely keep him out of the Germany squad for their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers as well.

Also qualifying for the Champions League group stage on Tuesday was Schalke 04, FC Basel, Austria Wien, and Steaua Bucuresti.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected Fenerbahce’s appeal against UEFA’s two-year ban for match-fixing, keeping them out of European competitions until the 2015-2016 season.

HODGSON INCLUDES TWO UNCAPPED PLAYERS IN ENGLAND SQUAD

Following some underwhelming results in qualifying, England’s place in the World Cup 2014 isn’t as sure of a thing as it once was.

Manager Roy Hodgson has selected in his squad for upcoming qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine a whole host of regulars, including Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, and Joe Hart, but Hodgson also took the time to invite three youngsters aboard, two of whom have no senior caps to their names.

Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, an 18-year-old, has been recalled to the squad while Everton’s 19-year-old Ross Barkley and Tottenham 22-year-old Andros Townsend could both make their first ever appearance for the Three Lions at the senior level, after impressive for the youth sides.

QUICK KICKS

Youngster Cristian Tello is the second Barcelona player in as many days to sign a new contract through 2018, with a buyout clause set for €25 million. (REPORT)

Chelsea have confirmed the signing of Anzhi midfielder Willian, signing a five-year contract after having his conditional work permit accepted. (REPORT)

Paul Pogba, who has been inquired for by Arsenal, has been compared by his agent Mino Raiola to a Salvador Dali painting, to which Raiola says is worth twice as much as Gareth Bale. (REPORT)

With Erik Lamela seemingly on his way to Tottenham, AS Roma have acquired his replacement, Serbian midfielder Adem Ljajic from Fiorentina, for a total of €13 million. (REPORT)

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque is considering picking Atletico Madrid duo Koke and Diego Costa for his next national team squad due to injuries to Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez. Costa would have to file his one-time switch, having represented Brazil twice in friendly matches. (REPORT)

Brazilian club Botafogo have sold one of their top youngsters, Vitinho, to CSKA Moscow for €10 million, angering the supporters. (REPORT)

UEFA has warned Kazakhstan side Shakhter Karagandy ahead of today’s Champions League match to not continue their tradition of slaughtering a sheep in sacrifice before a match inside the stadium. (REPORT)

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What do you think about these developments? Do you see Özil staying at Real Madrid? Do you believe Podolski can come back in time to play for Germany? What do you think of the England call-ups?

Share your thoughts below.

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