Aaron Ramsey is involved in a contract stand-off with Arsenal as he insists on an unusual clause to be part of any new deal.
The Welsh international is keen environmentalist, with a particular fondness for rhinos, and he wants part of his new deal to go to a fund which will help protect an increasingly endangered species.
It is believed that both parties were close to an agreement which would see the 27 year old extend his deal for four years, and put him on the same wage bracket as new arrivals Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who earn around £180,000 per week each.
However, Ramsey – whose current deal expires in June 2019 – was hugely affected by the recent death of Sudan, the world’s last white rhinoceros, and decided he needed to take a stand.
A source close to the Ramsey camp told us, “Aaron has asked that 5% of his salary be paid to the Rhino Conservation Fund, which is a hugely generous contribution – especially on the terms offered by Arsenal.
“However, he’s been hit with resistance from the board and legal team who fear that this could open the floodgates and create issues with the tax authorities.
“Charitable donations are deductible from income tax, but when it’s at this scale, it can cause a ripple effect.
“They are worried that players will see this as a way to siphon off funds to charities, religious institutions and their own personal foundations.
“They’ve seen criticism of some of the top players in the world who have fallen under scrutiny for similar schemes, and are refusing to make it happen.
“Aaron is very upset by it.”
In recent times footballers have begun to demonstrate a greater social conscience, with Juan Mata’s ‘Common Goal‘ charity urging players to sign up and donate 1% of their salary to good causes, and former Australian international Mark Viduka setting up a wildlife reverse for disabled wombats.
With question marks over the future of Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfield could need serious reconstruction if they can’t agree terms with Ramsey and he decides to move on elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Gunners have been strongly linked with a summer move for FC Köln goalkeeper Timo Horn.