Mesut Ozil has come in for fierce criticism from Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher after reports the German was one of three Arsenal players to refuse to take a pay cut.
The Premier League club confirmed on Monday that a 12.5 per cent overall reduction in wages had been agreed by the first-team squad , along with head coach Mikel Arteta and his staff, in a move aimed at mitigating the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, widespread reports later emerged suggesting Ozil was one of a trio of Gunners stars to reject the proposal.
Ozil is the club’s highest-paid player and Carragher believes the 31-year-old has scored “a huge PR own goal”.
“The fact the highest-paid player and possibly the biggest name at Arsenal has not gone with the rest of his team-mates and stuck together [is bad],” Carragher told The Football Show on Sky Sports News.
“Even if I was in Ozil’s position and I did not agree with that, I think the fact the rest of the team, your manager and people at the club have decided to be as one and make this decision, you have to go with it as a team.
“Football is a team game, it’s not an individual sport, and for someone like Ozil in that situation I think he’s got to go with what the rest of the players are doing. It’s a massive PR own goal.
“I’m not going to have a go at Mesut Ozil for the wages he’s earned. If you want to have a go at Mesut Ozil for the wages he’s got, blame the people who gave him the contract. We’re all in every walk of life 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 a dressing room, I think the highest-paid member and the biggest name in that dressing room should be the one who almost sets the example really.”
Mesut Ozil Arsenal
Ozil has previously been heavily involved in charitable work.
Upon marrying his wife Amine he promised to pay for 1,000 children to have life-changing surgery, while he also donated food to 100,000 homeless people across Turkey and Syria.