Mesut Ozil defends his decision to reject a pay reduction at Arsenal during the lockdown and believes’ “people have been trying for two years to destroy me” in the court of public opinion.

Ozil insisted he will not be forced out of the club before his contract expires next year despite not playing a single minute since football returns.

The former Germany international who earns £350,000 a week at the Emirates stadium was alone among the Arsenal squad in turning down the year-long pay cut of 12.5%.

Other squad members were also initially reluctant before coach Mikel Arteta stressed the perilous nature of Arsenal’s finances with no matchday revenue coming in.

This was reinforced last week with the news that Arsenal has made redundant 55 members of staff including people in their scouting and recruitment department.

But, Ozil insists the players were forced to make the decision too quickly and without all the information.

“As players, we all wanted to make a contribution. But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered”. Ozil said to The Athletic.

“Everyone was fine with a deferral while there was so much uncertainty. I would have been OK to take a bigger share and then a cut if required once the football and financial outlook was clearer”.

“But we were rushed into it without proper consultation. For anyone in this situation, you have a right to know everything. To understand why it is happening and 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”.

The 31-year-old Ozil said he had to think about his family as well as his charities before making the decision to refuse the pay cut. Ozil believes the criticism that comes his way was unjustified.

“I guess that’s because it’s me and people have been trying for two years to destroy me. To make me unhappy, to push an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me and paint a picture that is not true”. Added Ozil.

On the other side, Arteta insists Ozil’s omission from the team since Premier League resumption in June is purely down to footballing reasons.

Ozil had started off in the first 10 Premier League matches of Arteta’s tenure before lockdown. He also reiterated that he insists to end the final year of his Arsenal contract which expires in 2021.