Mesut Özil explains why he didn't take a pay cut
"We needed more information."
Mesut Özil has explained why he was the only Arsenal player - as far as we know - not to take a pay cut despite the coronavirus pandemic affecting the finances of every football club in the country.
His decision not to accept a reduced wage caused controversy, in no small part due to his £350,000 wage, but the situation is more complicated that it seems.
Initially, Arsenal's proposal to the playing squad that they would all take a 12.5 per cent pay cut for 12 months was rejected, before manager Mikel Arteta stepped in and persuaded his player to agree to the short term sacrifice.
The issue was brought up again last week when Arsenal announced 55 redundancies to permanent staff - something Arsenal players were told wouldn't happen if they agreed to the pay cut.
In an interview with The Athletic, the midfielder explained: "As players, we all wanted to contribute.
"But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered. Everyone was fine with a deferral while there was so much uncertainty — I would have been OK to take a bigger share — and then a cut if required, once the football and financial outlook was clearer. But we were rushed into it without proper consultation.
"For anyone in this situation, you have a right to know everything, to understand why it is happening and where the money is going. But we didn’t get enough details, we just had to give a decision. It was far too quick for something so important and there was a lot of pressure.
"This was not fair, especially for the young guys, and I refused. I had a baby at home and have commitments to my family here, in Turkey and in Germany — to my charities, too, and also a new project we started to support people in London that was from the heart and not for publicity.
"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.”