Mesut Ozil has often come under criticism due to his performances in an Arsenal shirt in the past two seasons, but recently, he came under scrutiny for turning down a proposed 12.5% pay cut to help the Premier League club financially during the global pandemic.
On Monday, Arsenal’s players and coaching staff agreed a 12.5% salary cut for a period of 12 months, making the London-based club the first in the Premier League to announce such a measure.
The German midfielder, who is the club’s highest earner on £350,000-a-week, is understood to want to see the “full financial impact” of the coronavirus outbreak before making a decision, according to The Mirror.
After the 31-year-old refused to take the paycut, former Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher and former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville laid into him for his decision.
“There are two strands of players who might not fully engage, and that’s a young lad who maybe didn’t have the revenue, or a player coming to the end of his contract. But the fact the highest-paid player hasn’t done it… the rest of the squad has agreed on it, you’ve got to go with the rest of the players. As you say, it’s a massive PR own goal,” Carragher told Sky Sports News.
Neville went one step further with his criticism of the 31-year-old, calling his actions indefensible. “The principle of not being together as a group is indefensible. You’re a team on and off the pitch,” he said.
“It just demonstrates the complexities of what is going on at Premier League clubs right now. Football is eating itself from the inside out. Most clubs, players, are not at war but they’re in a massive battle. The players don’t trust the clubs and this is just another example of it.”
Even television host, Piers Morgan hit out at Ozil on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, claiming that the World Cup-winner is the reason why players get a bad reputation.
“Shame on you Mesut Ozil, shame on you,” Morgan said. “The players I felt were getting a bad rap. This is why some of them deserve a bad rap. People like Mesut Ozil, who’ve just said no.”
‘Shame on you Mesut Ozil.’
‘This is why some players get a bad rap.’
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) April 21, 2020
Although Ozil’s agent, Dr. Erkut Sogut, didn’t comment on the situation, he has been earlier quoted as saying that professional footballers should not take pay cuts.
Arsenal will repay the difference if they qualify for UEFA Champions League this season, and will also pay a £100,000 bonus to the players. But if the Gunners only qualify for UEFA Europa League, the repayment will shrink to 7.5% and in case of no European participation in 2020/21 season, not a penny will be refunded from the club’s side.