Bali United has been put on soccer fanboy mode after World Cup winner Mesut Özil declared his interest in playing for the Island of Gods’ premier soccer team in the future.
Özil is in Jakarta this week as part of a promotional tour for a sportswear brand. In an interview, the silky playmaker, who played for Real Madrid and Arsenal, said playing in Indonesia one day is within the realm of possibility.
“I am still under contract with Fenerbahçe. I am happy in Turkey because my family also lives there. But if I were asked if I would join an Indonesian club, Bali United interests me,” he said.
Not wanting to let the opportunity slide, Bali United CEO Yabes Tanuri met with Özil in Jakarta following the statement and gifted the 33-year-old a souvenir from the club. A photo of their meeting was posted on Bali United’s Instagram page this afternoon.
Bali United manager Stefano “Teco” Cugurra expressed his wish to have Özil in his roster, but stressed that the midfielder’s contract with Istanbul’s Fenerbahçe runs until 2024.
If Özil were to ply his trade in Indonesia, Bali United certainly wouldn’t be a bad choice. Despite being established in 2015, Bali United is the reigning champion of Liga 1 having won in 2019 and defended the title in the 2021/22 season of Indonesia’s premier football competition. Liga 1 was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic.
And he wouldn’t be the first soccer mega star to play in Indonesia. Ghana’s Michael Essien, who also played for Real Madrid in a glittering career, joined Persib Bandung in 2017, though his Indonesian adventure was ultimately nothing to write home about.