Aubameyang joins Henderson talks as Premier League wage reduction deal edges closer

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Jordan HendersonGetty/Goal

Mikel Arteta and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be involved in a conference call with other Premier League bosses and captains on Saturday afternoon to try and finalise an agreement about a wage reduction deal.

The move to reduce player salaries is aimed at safeguarding club’s finances during the coronavirus crisis while also generating millions of pounds for the NHS.

Discussions have been ongoing throughout the week over how football can move forward during the pandemic, with an announcement coming on Friday that leagues in England - which had been scheduled to start again in May - would now be suspended indefinitely until government advice stated it was safe to return.

With millions of pounds worth of gate money being lost due to the suspension, as well as the threat of television companies demanding refunds over the broadcast contracts they signed to show live football, clubs across the country are facing uncertain times.

In a bid to safeguard their futures, some, including top-flight clubs Tottenham and Newcastle, have already announced they have furloughed members of staff without reducing the wages of players.

This will see the government pay 80 per cent of the furloughed staff members’ wages, up to £2,500-a-month, while they are temporarily out of work.

This has led to some fierce criticism - both within football and in wider society - with many calling for players to start giving up large chunks of their vast monthly salaries in order to help others who are far less financially secure.

Julia Knight, chairman of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee, stated on Thursday that clubs should face a financial penalty if they furlough staff while continuing to pay players in full.

“We are facing an obscene situation where top players who aren't working are continuing to see hundreds of thousands of pounds roll in each week while the staff who keep the clubs going are losing wages," she said.

Jordan Henderson Liverpool 2019-20

"If the Premier League isn’t going to act to resolve this crisis then the government must step in by imposing a significant financial penalty on clubs to reimburse those hit hardest in the pocket.

"That's why I have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak today demanding that Premier League clubs do the right thing by Tuesday next week or face the consequences."

Within football, however, there has always willingness to help out and discussions had already started between players over a wage reduction scheme which would see the saved money going to those in need and also those on the front-line fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been in talks with other club captains in recent days - including Arsenal skipper Aubameyang - to come up with an agreement, which could be finalised during this afternoon’s conference call.

As the talks have progressed, Aubameyang has remained in close contact with the rest of the Arsenal squad as they continue to train at home while all club facilities remain closed.

One source described the players as being "very engaged and supportive of each other" as discussions continue as to how to move forward, both financially and in terms of eventually returning to training.

It is thought that when Arsenal do return to London Colney, players could initially train in small groups which will be a set distance away from each other.

This would be one of a number of precautions implemented in a bid to minimise any threat of possible infection.