LONDON – Mesut Ozil has defended his decision to reject a pay reduction at Arsenal during lockdown and believes ‘people have been trying for two years to destroy me’ in the court of public opinion.
And he has insisted he won’t be forced out of the club before his contract expires next year despite not playing a single minute post-restart.
The former Germany international, who earns £350,000-a-week at the Emirates Stadium, today told The Athletic he was not alone in the Arsenal squad in turning down the year-long pay cut of 12.5 per cent.
Other members of the squad were also initially reluctant before manager Mikel Arteta stressed the perilous nature of Arsenal’s finances with no matchday revenue coming in.
This was reinforced last week with the news that Arsenal have made redundant 55 members of staff, including people in their scouting and recruitment department.
But Ozil insists the players were forced to make the decision too quickly and without all the information.
‘As players, we all wanted to contribute. But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered,’ he said.
‘Everyone was fine with a deferral while there was so much uncertainty – I would have been OK to take a bigger share – and then a cut if required, once the football and financial outlook was clearer.
‘But we were rushed into it without proper consultation. For anyone in this situation, you have a right to know everything, to understand why it is happening and where the money is going.
Ozil hasn’t played a single minute for Arsenal since the resumption of the Premier League
Ozil, seen modelling next season’s Arsenal home kit, intends to see out the final year of his deal
‘But we didn’t get enough details, we just had to give a decision. It was far too quick for something so important and there was a lot of pressure.’
Ozil, 31, said he had to think about his family as well as his charities before making the decision to refuse the pay cut and believes the criticism that came his way was unjustified.
‘I guess that’s because it is me and people have been trying for two years to destroy me, to make me unhappy, to push an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me and pain a picture that is not true,’ he added.
Ozil played in a pre-restart friendly match against Brentford but hasn’t featured since
Arteta has insisted that Ozil’s omission from the team since the resumption of the Premier League in June is purely down to footballing reasons.
Ozil had actually started the first 10 Premier League matches of Arteta’s tenure before lockdown.
He also reiterated that he intends to complete the final year of his Arsenal contract, which expires in 2021.
Source: Daily Mail