Manchester United star Juan Mata insists he would “happily take a pay cut” within the bubble of football and claimed some younger players need to tone down their “rock-star” behaviour.
Mata signed for United from Chelsea under former manager David Moyes in 2014 and has made 99 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 24 goals.
He could add the FA Cup to his CV this term, after Louis van Gaal’s side booked their place in the final, while the Spaniard appears almost embarrassed by the easy life he and his colleagues live when compared to the general public.
In an interview with Spanish television programme Salvados, reported by AS, Mata said: “I’d happily take a pay cut if there was less business involvement in the sport.
“At this level we’re very well paid and sometimes you get to thinking that there really isn’t much of a difference between x and x+3.”
Mata, who made his United debut in January 2014 after his move during the winter window, added: “Football is very well remunerated at this level. It’s like we live in a bubble.
“Compared to the rest of society, we earn a ridiculous amount. It’s unfathomable. With regard to the world of football, I earn a normal wage but compared to 99.9 per cent of Spain and the rest of the world, I earn an obscene amount.”
United have long been associated with a celebrity lifestyle off the field, from former players George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo to Memphis Depay in the current squad.
But with an increasing number of fans across the Premier League baulking at rising salaries and ticket prices, especially for teams not performing to expectations, Mata can sympathise if the modern-day spectator falls out of love with the game.
“I can understand what they’re talking about,” he said. “The business side of football makes it seem as though the owners are now more important than the fans.
“It’s not like the football of old; there wasn’t as much press coverage before or as many interested parties looking for their cut.
“Every player thinks he’s (Diego) Maradona when he joins a big club. That happens to all of us but then you start to notice it in the younger players.
“You see kids who think they’re rock stars; wearing extravagant clothes and driving fancy cars… and sometimes you have to take them aside and have a word.
“As long as you can keep a cool head though and continue working as hard as before, which after all is what got you to where you are, than you’ll be able to handle yourself.”