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

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Sam Dean and Ja­son Burt

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

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