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Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal’s players knew the score over taking pay cuts

Mikel Arteta insists that Arsenal players were well informed of the need to take pay cuts during the height of the Covid crisis, despite Mesut Ozil’s claim that they were rushed into it.

The majority of them agreed a 10 per cent cut but their German £350,000-a-week midfielder refused. The club then announced 55 redundancies.

Earlier this month, Ozil explained his decision by saying: ‘We needed more information and many questions were unanswered. Everyone was fine with a deferral while there was so much uncertainty… and then a cut if required, once the financial outlook was clearer. But we were rushed into it without proper consultation.

‘You have a right to know everything, where the money is going. But we didn’t get enough details, we just had to give a decision. It was far too quick for something so important and there was a lot of pressure. This was not fair, especially for the young guys, and I refused. And when you see what has happened now with the (55) jobs, maybe I was right.’

But Arteta, speaking ahead of his team’s Community Shield clash with Liverpool on Saturday, dismissed the idea that players were not put in the picture and defended the club’s decision to lose jobs.

‘The club had a very thorough plan of how they needed to restructure in order to be more stable for the future,’ said the manager. ‘They were very convincing with every argument they gave to all of us that it was the right thing to do.

‘The players were happy to contribute in this difficult financial position. That doesn’t mean that afterwards you are going to have a say in every decision made by the club. It can’t work like that. At the end of the day it wasn’t an obligation, it was a choice whether you wanted to do it or not.

‘We tried to do the right things as human beings to help a club that has been supporting us, in my case for many years, and in others cases here as well, whether you were injured, sick, performing or not performing. We believe it was the right thing to do and then the club has to be free to try to fight for the future in the most positive and stable way.’

This season promises to be anything but stable and Arteta fears there will be more positive tests for coronavirus following Paul Pogba and others.

‘We are going to have many more cases in the future unfortunately,’ Arteta said. 

‘You’re just planning to do something and then that player tests positive, and that positive was a false positive. We are trying to get used to it, and manage the situation as well as we can.’

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