Mesut Ozil says he refused to follow suit at at Arsenal with a pay cut because it was unfair, adding that he is tired of critics trying to “destroy” him for his decision.
The majority of Arsenal’s players and staff agreed to lower their pay in April as part of coronavirus cost-cutting measures.
The club cut salaries by 12.5 per cent, reduced to 7.5 per cent when Arsenal won the FA Cup earlier this month. What’s more, club executives agreed to cut a third of their pay packets.
However, the Gunners’ top earner Ozil did not take part. The decision led to an angry reaction from many, who cited the fact that the midfielder earns £350,000 per week.
Speaking to The Athletic, however, Ozil has now set the record straight, blasting his critics in the process.
“It was far too quick for something so important and there was a lot of pressure,” the 31-year-old said of the pay cuts. “This was not fair, especially for the young guys, and I refused.
“People who know me know exactly how generous I am and, as far as I’m aware, I was not the only player who rejected the cut in the end, but only my name came out.
“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 paint a picture that is not true.
“Possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch, I don’t know. But I’m 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 FEELING THE PINCH
Arsenal announced earlier this month plans to cut 55 jobs, mostly in their administrative and commercial departments.
However, the club have promised to continue first-team investment, allowing boss Mikel Arteta to develop his transfer plans.
The Gunners are close to sealing a free transfer for former Chelsea winger Willian. The Brazilian has reportedly passed his medical and will likely formally sign this week.
READ MORE: Chelsea join hunt for Arsenal winger target