Mesut Özil has struggled to find form so far this season, and after 45 minutes of Real Madrid's league match with Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday night, the German midfielder was replaced by Kaka (who had to stop doing the coloring books that Jose Mourinho usually gives him to keep busy during games).
In a gesture that the Spanish press are labeling as defiance towards The Special One — but is probably just defiance towards personal hygiene — Sergio Ramos emerged in the second half wearing Özil's shirt under his own, with the intention of displaying it when he scored a goal. Despite Madrid running out 5-1 winners, the Spanish star failed to find the net and kept his teammate's jersey concealed. Well, semi-concealed.
Ramos must have known that his gesture would be interpreted as insubordination towards his manager, and has now published a series of tweets to insist that his motivation was only to support his friend:
Good morning everyone. I would like to clarify a few things before you speak and keep inventing more lies.
Mesut is a great friend and I said long ago that my first goal of the season would be for him. I changed the shirt hoping I would get my first goal. Nothing more.
Moreover, my relationship with Mourinho is good, honest and clear. I respect his decisions and for me, he is the best coach. Go Madrid!
Speaking before Madrid's Champions League match in Amsterdam, Mourinho reacted to the jersey gesture — and the growing feeling within the media that there is disharmony behind the scenes — by stating that his squad is all "rowing in the same direction," and that he believes Sergio Ramos is quite professional. "My relationship with my wife is much better than with Sergio Ramos," he added, confusingly.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time a Madrid star has worn a teammate's jersey under his own. Marca notes that Raul wore Fernando Morientes' shirt during the 2002 European Super Cup Final, shortly before the striker was usurped by new signing Ronaldo. On that evening, Raul did not score either, and also kept his gesture under wraps.