Arsenal are angry with Mesut Ozil after the midfielder broke ranks to defend his decision to reject a reduction in his £350,000-per-week wages, while hinting that may be why Mikel Arteta stopped selecting him.
Most of the FA Cup winners’ squad accepted a year-long 12.5 per cent pay cut in light of the coronavirus crisis, but the 31-year-old refused, insisting the players were ‘rushed into it without proper consultation’.
He claims the reason it became public knowledge that he turned down the proposed deal is because ‘people have been trying for two years to destroy me’ and ‘to push an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me’.
Ozil, who reiterated he will not be forced out before his contract expires at the end of the next season, has not played a single minute since the restart.
‘You don’t play 10 games in a row if you’re unfit, not good enough or don’t behave well,’ the midfielder told 433sports.com referring to his run of Premier League appearances under Arteta pre-lockdown.
‘If I played these games badly and was then left out completely for that reason then I might understand, but this was not the case.
‘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.’
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Ozil was referring to the news that Arsenal are making 55 members of staff redundant. That has also attracted criticism as the north London club prepare to sign free agent Willian, 32, whose transfer is close to completion.
‘My position is clear,’ added Ozil. ‘I’m here through to the last day of our agreement and I’ll give everything I have for this club. I’ll decide when I go, not other people. I didn’t sign for two or three years. I signed for four and that should be respected by everyone.’
Ozil added it was ‘disappointing’ when Arsenal distanced themselves from his comments on the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China last year. The club said they were ‘apolitical’ at the time.
Ozil was given permission to start his summer break early while Arsenal were preparing to play Chelsea in the FA Cup final and the club have taken a dim view to the defiant interview.
He also spoke out late last year when he said he would not be forced out and described how he was blamed whenever Arsenal fell short in ‘big games.