Ozil joins Chelsea stars in bid to get 60,000 face masks to Sierra Leone amid coronavirus spread

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil has teamed up with a group of Chelsea stars led by Antonio Rudiger to send 60,000 face masks to Sierra Leone to help in the ongoing fight against coronavirus across the world.

Rudiger's parents Matthias and Lily met in the German capital of Berlin after fleeing Sierra Leone in 1991 due to the civil war but the family retain a connection to their country.

The defender's Chelsea team-mates N'Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odoi have all donated to the local organisations Madam Wokie and LunchBox Gift with fears that an outbreak in the impoverished state could lead to a higher death rate than in many European countries.

Each player has offered $5,000, with the donations being matched by the European Union dollar for dollar, as the players aim to raise awareness for a cause that will deliver the masks to low-income market traders in Sierra Leone's capital city of Freetown.

The donations come amid the latest World Bank report that economic growth in the country will be stopped even in the best-case scenario with 39 per cent of the population living below the international poverty line of US$1.9/day.

Current coronavirus figures from the west African state show that there are 61 confirmed cases with six having recovered but there are likely many more instances which haven't been reported.

This week, Rudiger has also decided to pay three months of catering costs for nurses at the hospital of his birth in Berlin with Germany being one of the worst-hit countries in Europe.

Meanwhile, Chelsea's players have given a 'sizeable donation' to the club's in-house charity the Chelsea Foundation that is now focusing its efforts on reducing the impact of coronavirus.

This is on top of the Premier League-wide initiative through the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) from footballers to donate to #PlayersTogether, a charity delivering help to NHS frontline workers.

Chelsea have moved closer as a club to secure a 10 per cent pay cut across the board for their squad with no incentive for the players to earn money back in the coming seasons.

Frank Lampard and his staff have been in separate discussions with Blues director Marina Granovskaia over their own reduction.

The Premier League had issued guidance to players and clubs that a 30% reduction in wages would be suitable to help ease the financial pressure on the sport after a loss of revenue due to the stoppage in play.

They would be the second club to agree such a move after Arsenal negotiated a 12.5% drop in wages for the squad. However, they can recover the finance through bonuses by qualifying for the Champions League next season.

Ozil is one of three players reported to have not signed up to the deal which has led to criticism from some quarters due to him being Arsenal's highest-paid player on £350,000 a week.