Aubameyang Scores a Hattrick for Barcelona – So What?
I was still on my blogging hiatus when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang departed the club for Barcelona, which crowned what was a tumultuous January 2022 for everyone connected with Arsenal. With five games played in January, Arsenal scored only one goal, shockingly, in the New Year’s Day defeat to Manchester City, which turned out to be the only goal scored in the month. This was because the Gunners were goalless and absolutely toothless in the next four games, losing to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, before the double legged affair with Liverpool in the League Cup. Burnley finally decided to turn up for a football match and showed up at the Emirates, to share the spoils with Arsenal.
While all that crap was going on in the field of play, there were exciting links with Fiorentina’s hot forward, Dusan Vlahovic, and Arsenal fans remained hopeful the club would seal the deal for the Serb, bearing in mind that the ousted skipper, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang left the club to Cameroon to represent his nation in the Africa Cup of Nations – even though if that didn’t pan out well with his medical issues. Vlahovic ended up with Juventus, and of course, social media went haywire with the club’s failure to seal the move for what was a genuine target.
However, there were some outgoing moves in January – Sead Kolasinac got his contract terminated like Mesut Ozil, Skhodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos before him and joined Matteo Guendouzi and William Saliba in Arsenal’s new dumping ground, Olympique Marseille. Then Pablo Mari, still haunted with the memories of being destroyed by Romelu Lukaku in August 2021, crept out the backdoor to Udinese, thereby reducing the center back count at the club. Ainsley Maitland-Niles wasn’t getting the first team football he was hoping for following his engagement with Mikel Arteta, so it was no surprise when Jose Mourinho (meh!) came calling and the Englishman found himself playing right back in Rome. Some business was also conducted within the nation with Flo Balogun leaving to Middlesbrough on loan for some valuable game time in the lower divisions and not too surprising departure of Calum Chambers to join the project Steven G is spearheading at Aston Villa.
Which now brings me to the Mammoth (yup, clearly bigger than an elephant!) in the Room – Aubameyang! Yes, things had really deteriorated between the former captain and his manager, or I dare say, the club at large, which saw him lose his captaincy. However, the sequence of events that saw the star forward move to Barcelona on a free transfer, yes, free transfer, was downright shambolic. If Arsenal had not signed Nicolas Pepe for £72m, Aubameyang would have remained the club’s record signing, and to see him leave for nothing leaves a lot to be desired. Firstly, there was the bit of the captain flying to Barcelona on his own when both parties had not reached an amiable conclusion, which speaks in volumes. Then there was the talk of how the deal was off because both clubs could not agree on terms, leaving the Gabonese forward red faced, then there were pictures of him already in training with the Catalan outfit, when the deal had not been made official.
From the best of my knowledge, it is believed that the forward and the club parted ways ‘by mutual consent’. This indicates that Aubameyang, so desperate to leave the club, parted ways with his fat pay check to join cash-strapped Barcelona for next to nothing, On one side of the divide, Arsenal is being lauded for ‘conducting a smart piece of business’, saving themselves about £25m in wages that would have been holed up for the best part of 18 months on a player who’s future with the club was done. It takes us back to the very messy Mesut Ozil situation that saw the German maestro rot on the bench consistently, offering no value to a team that was clearly bereft of his creativity. Here with Aubameyang, we have decided to cut ties with a striker that produced close to a century of goals, sticking with just Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, that have just three, yes, three Premier League goals between them.
If we were to let Aubameyang go and got in some juicy forward from who the Hell knows where, I don’t think the narrative would be the same. It’s bad enough that you let yet another valuable player depart the club for free, putting him in the same class with Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil.
Four games into his new fledgling career with the Catalan outfit, Aubameyang scores a hattrick against Valencia and Arsenal social media goes into overdrive with fingers pointed at the club for failing to get a replacement, with is culminated with the club’s current alpha male in attack, Alexandre Lacazette, continuing to struggle in front of goal. Last weekend, Arsenal looked to the exciting kids, Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka to come with the goods against Brentford and the game before that, it was Gabriel that scored the solitary goal that earned three valuable points against fellow top four hopefuls, Wolves.
Seeing Aubameyang score at Barcelona, while Lacazette is still blanking at Arsenal is not a pleasurable sight, no doubt, but Lacazette dons the Famous Red and White while Aubameyang no longer does. Some folks will come up with statements like ‘Aubameyang was in poor form before leaving…’, but that takes nothing from the fact that he’s still one of the most lethal forwards in the game. Arsenal has just Lacazette and to a certain degree, Eddie Nketiah, to lead the line between now and May, and I’m certain that Arteta, Edu and the scouting team would do their bit this summer to help secure a new center forward (or two) that would lead the line for years to come – especially with Lacazette and Nketiah having one foot at the exit door.
We as fans need to shift our focus to what’s really important – which is qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in eons, rather than on whether Aubameyang scored x amount of goals at his new club. We will continue to show our support for the lads we have, rather than those that have left for pastures anew.
Always remember that soldiers come and go, but the barracks will always remain intact.
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