Ozil, who is one of the best-paid players in the Premier League, is reportedly resisting joining the majority of the Arsenal staff in taking the temporary action after the club announced on Monday that they had “reached a voluntary agreement with our first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff” in an effort to cut costs.
Several clubs across Europe have taken similar measures are they attempt to deal with the financial implications of the cessation of game-day revenue amid restrictions on movement and public gatherings across much of the continent.
The arrangement, Arsenal say, will “help support the club at this critical time” and comes after Premier League clubs Southampton and West Ham enacted pay-cuts for their staff, although those teams have opted to defer wages rather than cut them.
According to reports from UK media, Ozil rejected his club’s proposal of a pay-cut but is amenable to the idea of a pay deferral – perhaps of even more than the 12.5 percent cut that the club have requested. It is understood that a further two Arsenal players also rejected the pay-cut.
Ozil, reports say, hasn’t been convinced of the necessity to reduce his wages which will reportedly remain in place for 12 months and be paid back later via bonuses if Champions League qualification is secured.
The reaction to Ozil’s decision has been particularly fiery, with noted Arsenal fan and professional provocateur Piers Morgan being unsympathetic to the former German international.
“Shame on you Mesut Ozil. Shame on you,” Morgan said on UK breakfast television.
“Some of the younger players, who are on far less money than you, are taking a 12.5% pay cut, a minuscule drop in the ocean for you, and you don’t want to do it because you want to see how the financial situation plays out while you are sitting on your backside on your Playstation every night rather than actually playing football. Really?
“I’ve reserved my condemnations for football clubs who have been furloughing, using taxpayers’ money when they have plenty themselves. Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle… all got shamed into doing U-turns on this kind of thing.
“The players I thought were getting a bad rap – but this is why some of them deserve a bad rap.
“People like Mesut Ozil who have just said ‘Sorry, no. I may be one of the highest-paid players at Arsenal, one of the highest-paid in the world, I might be worth gazillions and sitting on my backside at the moment doing nothing, but no I’m not going to take a pay cut.'”
However, there hasn’t been a pile-on to the degree that Morgan may have envisaged. Several Arsenal supporters have been quick to point out on social media that Ozil is a noted advocate of several charities and has made several large donations to various philanthropic organizations.
Despite two other (anonymous) Arsenal players rejecting the club’s proposal, it is Ozil’s decision which has captured the headlines and whlie the motivations behind the player’s decision can be debated, there’s little deny UK pundit Jamie Carragher’s assertion that this has been mishandled by Ozil’s agent and his club.
“It’s a massive PR own goal,” Carragher said. “He’s a man… I’m not going to have a go at him for the wages he’s earned. If you wanna have a go at Mesut Ozil for the wages he’s got, blame the people who give him the contract. We all, in every walk of life, are trying to earn as much money as we possibly can.
“But when a situation like this comes in, and you’re together as a team, in the dressing room, I think the highest-paid member and the biggest name in that dressing room should be one who almost sets the example really, because it hasn’t been a great PR success story really since he had that contract.”