Speaking with Spanish newspaper Marca, the 27-year-old was asked whether it was surprising to see Madrid allow Ozil leave the Santiago Bernabeu, and Monreal said: 'Personally, I think so. Mesut is a star and Real Madrid are full of stars… but I didn't expect Madrid to let him go. For us, it's an honour to play with him.'
Madrid's capture of Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale and Malaga's Isco meant that Ozil became expendable, and manager Carlo Ancelotti recently admitted that he preferred Argentine winger Angel di Maria to the German playmaker, who was impressed at the Emirates Stadium so far.
'I decided the departure of Ozil. I prefer Di Maria for the balance of the team. It's true, that maybe Di Maria has less quality than Ozil but on a profile of dynamism, character and help to the team I preferred Di Maria. With the arrival of Bale it was better to have Di Maria than Ozil.'
Real's loss is certainly Arsenal's gain, and Monreal's surprise that Arsenal landed Ozil in a £42.4m deal in September shows what a coup it was for Arsene Wenger, after a summer of failed transfer bids and a shock 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day.
Since Ozil joined the Gunners, he has contributed two goals and four assists, but also given hope to Arsenal fans that the club can still attract the big names, a feeling that had dwindled after the departures of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas in recent years. This new found optimism is also partly driven by an incredible run of results, which was only brought to a halt against Manchester United last weekend, but with Ozil now on board, Arsenal can genuinely challenge for the title once again.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald