Arsenal chiefs were reportedly left ‘furious’ with Mesut Ozil after the playmaker defended his decision to refuse to take a pay cut, while criticising Mikel Arteta’s move to not play him for a single minute in Project Restart.
Ozil refused to take a 12.5% pay reduction on his £350,000-a-week wages – unlike the majority of the Arsenal squad – during the coronavirus pandemic and claimed the only reason it became public knowledge was because ‘people have been trying for two years to destroy me’.
Despite him believing there is ‘an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me’, Ozil insists he will not be forced out of the club and plans to honour the final year of his contract.
His comments have left Arsenal bosses angry and they have taken a ‘dim view’ of the interview, according to the Daily Mail.
Ozil suggested he had not been picked in the final portion of the Premier League season because he refused to take a wage cut.
‘You don’t play 10 games in a row if you’re unfit, not good enough or don’t behave well,’ the midfielder told The Athletic.
‘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 [55 Arsenal staff members are being made redundant], maybe I was.’
Despite clashing with the club’s hierarchy, Ozil insists he is going nowhere.
He added: ‘My position is clear.
‘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.’