Mesut Ozil has come in for fierce criticism from former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher after reports emerged that the German was one of three Arsenal players to refuse to take a pay cut.
The gunners confirmed on Monday that a 12.5 per cent pay cut had been agreed by the first-team squad, along with manager Mikel Arteta and his staff, in a move aimed at mitigating the financial effect of the coronavirus crisis.
However, widespread reports later emerged claiming Mesut Ozil was one of a trio of Gunners players to decline the proposal.
However, Ozil is the club’s highest-paid player and Carragher believes the 31-year-old midfielder 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.”
Ozil has previously been very much involved in charitable work. Upon marrying his wife Amine the German promised to pay for 1,000 children to have life-changing surgery, while he was also able to donate food to 100,000 homeless people in Turkey and Syria.