Why Ozil said no to lockdown cut in wages
Midfielder says club did not reveal how savings would help German insists that he will not be forced to leave Arsenal
Mesut Ozil has said he refused to take a pay cut during lockdown because Arsenal did not provide him with enough information about where the savings would be going, as he insisted that he had no intention of leaving this summer.
Ozil said the Arsenal players were rushed into taking a pay cut during lockdown and faced “a lot of pressure” from the club, who deployed head coach Mikel Arteta to help convince the squad to take the reductions.
The 31-year-old is the club’s highest-paid player, earning £350,000 per week, and Arsenal are hoping to offload him during this summer window after he did not play a single minute under Arteta following football’s restart. But Ozil insisted he would not be forced out and that the length of his contract, which expires in June 2021, “should be respected by everyone”.
Ozil suggested that his exclusion from the first team could have been linked to his refusal to take a pay cut, although Arteta has always said his selection decisions are only ever taken for football reasons. He also claimed he was not the only player to refuse a pay cut.
In an interview with The Athletic,
Ozil said he did not agree to the pay cut because the club did not provide players with “enough detail”.
Arsenal have since announced that 55 staff will be made redundant because of the financial impact of the pandemic, despite many players agreeing to the pay cuts because they believed it would protect jobs.
“Possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch,
I don’t know,” said
Ozil. “But I am not afraid to stand up for what I feel is right – and when you see what has happened now with the jobs, maybe I was.”
Arsenal said they faced longer-lasting reductions in their revenues than had been expected. Their bloated wage bill is one of the biggest drains on resources and Ozil’s enormous wages have made it difficult for Arsenal to find anyone willing to sign him before the end of his contract. Their best hope of offloading the playmaker may be a loan deal in which they still pay a significant part of his wages. “I will decide when I go, not other people,” said Ozil. “I didn’t sign for two or three years, I signed for four and that should be respected by everyone.”
The Ozil saga continues to be a source of frustration for Arsenal, who want to invest in their squad despite their financial difficulties. They are due to announce the signing of Willian on a three-year deal this weekend after the Brazilian completed his medical this week.
Willian is understood to have been requested by Arteta, who sees the winger as an ideal recruit, given his experience, profile and the terms of the deal. Arsenal have also expressed an interest in Roma midfielder Amadou Diawara. The 23-year-old is one of the options being considered by the club, who have been desperate to strengthen their midfield since Arteta was appointed in December. Talks remain at a very early stage, with sources in Italy saying that Roma are reluctant to sell the Guinea midfielder this summer. Lucas Torreira is open to returning to Italy, though, and could be offered as part of a swap deal. Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes is also on Arsenal’s radar, although they face strong competition.
Their top target remains Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, whose £45million release clause is a major obstacle.
Arsenal are expected to confirm in the coming days that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a lucrative new deal. Meanwhile, Kia Joorabchian, the agent of Willian and David Luiz, has dismissed suggestions he has influence over Arsenal’s transfer policy. Cedric Soares is another of the agent’s clients to have been signed recently. Joorabchian also took a swipe at Sven Mislintat, Arsenal’s former head of recruitment. “People forget about the previous guy, Sven,” he told TalkSport. “He made a bunch of, I don’t like to use the word, but cockups, with players that he brought in at very, very large numbers.”
‘I will decide when I go, not others. I signed for four years and that should be respected’
In the shade: Mesut Ozil, shielding himself from the sun at Southampton in June (above), is fighting his corner at Arsenal