Aubameyang’s Arsenal future in doubt

Striker loses club captaincy for ‘breach’, and isn't in the Gunners' squad for West Ham game

Wednesday, 15th December 2021 — By Steve Barnett


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ‘had to accept’ that he was no longer the Arsenal captain

PIERRE-EMERICK Aubameyang’s days at Arsenal appear to be numbered after the striker was stripped of the club captaincy following “a disciplinary breach”.

Having been left out of the squad for Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League win over Southampton at the Emirates Stadium, Aubameyang was again dropped for the home game against West Ham tonight (Wednesday).

In a very public – and possibly costly – display of authority, a club statement read: “We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed.”

Mikel Arteta has remained tight-lipped on the reasons for Aubame­yang’s absence, refusing to comment when asked if the striker had returned late from a trip abroad.

It is, however, the second time that the 32-year-old has been left out for disciplinary reasons. In March he missed the 2-1 win over rivals Tottenham for a “breach of pre-match protocol”.

Arteta said that he told Aubameyang “face to face” that he was being axed as skipper, adding that the forward “had to accept” what was “a painful decision”.

Somewhat alarmingly, the Gunners boss refused to commit to when – or even if – Aubameyang will play for the club again. “I don’t have much more to say, I think it’s a really clear statement from the club,” said Arteta.

“It’s a decision that we have made following the last incident that we had with the player. We had to make the decision because it’s the right one to defend the interests of this football club.

“The decision is a really tough one and there has been a lot to digest and we need a little time. It was really hurting and we need a little time to heal. Our relationship has been really good since I have been here and that is why it’s painful.”

Arteta said the club would not rush into naming a new captain, but he did hint that either Granit Xhaka or Alexandre Lacazette could take over the armband.

“Well, we have the leadership group and we have different players who have been nominated to be captain. In the last game it was Laca, we had had Granit who has been captain as well, so we will follow that,” explained the Spaniard.

“That leadership group is really strong, it is the one that communicates with myself and the coaching staff and with the club in a really strong and clear way, and we are going to continue that.

“That is one of the decisions we make, to make that group a little bit better and try to educate them and try to get the right feedback all the time and build the trust and a strong culture around the club. It is working really well, so we will continue to do that.”

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