€40m Manchester United target in Ozil denial

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Manchester United linked Ivan Rakitic has denied he forced Mesut Ozil out of Schalke and insists the pair are good friends.

In a fascinating interview with FourFourTwo magazine, Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic has moved to clear up a myth regarding his past.

Rakitic, 25, spent four seasons in Schalke before signing for the La Liga side, but a cloud surrounded his arrival at the club in 2007.

The Croatian signed from just £2.2 million from Basel, but his arrival was largely accredited to forcing out Mesut Ozil.

It was even suggested the pair were not on speaking terms but Rakitic insists the reality was is far different.

He told the magazine: "We have an excellent relationship, even today. I know his father and I speak to Mesut sometimes as well.

"He wasn't happy with the attention the club gave him – or didn't give him, to be more precise. That was the only true reason he wanted to leave, not because of me."

Ozil left Schalke in the same year to sign with rival club Werder Bremen, where he excelled and forced his way into the German side before clinching a blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

The comments back up an interview he gave in Germany in 2008, where he was again quizzed over his role in Ozil's exit after media speculation:

"We were and are very good friends. We call regularly. We understand each other outside, but also on the pitch. But why he left is down to him, his father, his advisers and the club, it was not my thing. So I think that I had little to do with it."

The midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United over the past month, and the fact he has a €40 million release clause written into his option makes him a viable potential signing.

So will the pair be coming face to face? Not necessarily any time soon. Rakitic stated he was keen to stay at Sevilla where he is enjoying his football, dominant in a 3-0 victory for his side over Getafe on Monday.

A great shame for he is an immensely talented footbaler who will soon be approaching his peak. One for the summer perhaps, just don't tell Mesut Ozil.

image: © jasonparis

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