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Aubameyang Scores a Hattrick for Barcelona – So What?

Aubameyang hat-trick fires Barca to Valencia win, Sevilla slip up again

Aubameyang celebrates a goal for Barcelona

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

Sayonara

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Aubameyang Signs and Martinez Leaves to Aston Villa

Arsenal news: Martinez breaks down in tears during emotional interview  after FA Cup win | Metro News

The picture above shows Emiliano Martinez and club captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sharing a moment in Wembley as they basked in the euphoria of the Arsenal’s 14th FA Cup victory. Martinez, despite being on the fringes for pretty much the entirety of his Arsenal career, did a pretty amazing job in the short duration he deputized as Bernd Leno’s replacement.

I had shared my thoughts on Martinez leaving but it’s something I can touch on again. It was evident that his performances at the end of the 2019/20 campaign had put the gaffer, Mikel Arteta, in some type of dilemma, but on the back of what was a very successful spell in the side, Martinez was not going to spend another season as a deputy, waiting to feature in only Europa League and Cup games. You could bet in the best online casinos on whether he was going to leave the clubs and the odds would have been low. 

Prior to when the Aston Villa move was officially announced, Martinez took to Instagram to share an emotional message with the fans about how he had his struggles with us and how he’s leaving through the front door. That meant a lot because we know how irksome some departures can be, like in the Robin van Persie situation or more recently, a loved player like Alexis Sanchez. We also need to consider the financial aspect of this deal – if a Premier League club had offered 20 million quid for Martinez while Leno was still fit, we would have bitten their fingers, wrapped the Argentine goalie in plastic, added a fragile stamp on him and ensured he got to the new club unscathed.

Aston Villa on the other hand, have their goalkeeping issues to deal with, as star goalie from Burnley, Tom Heaton, suffered a long term injury, forcing the club to sign a 136-year-old goalie to hold the fort, and we all know how they leaked goals like baskets. Martinez is going to a club where he will be a nailed-on first choice goalkeeper, so it was a win-win situation for both player and club.

Speaking of win-win, Arsenal and its talisman, Aubameyang, finally reached an agreement that saw the star forward sign a three year contract with the club. When you consider how important Aubameyang is to this club and what he has achieved for us and with us in his stint, extending his contract was the best piece of business this summer. The forward had some nice words to say as well,

“Signing for this special club was never in doubt. “It’s thanks to our fans, my team-mates, my family and everybody at this club that I feel like I belong here. I believe in Arsenal. We can achieve big things together. We have something exciting here and I believe the best is to come for Arsenal.”

Since Aubameyang joined the club, he has been in very prolific form, despite the fact he’s been played out of position. A striker of his immense talent and ability would have grumbled for not featuring in his natural habitat but he considered the team first and has been putting a great shift on the left to allow his best mate, Alexandre Lacazette, and fledgling forward, Eddie Nketiah, flourish in attack. 

The news of Aubameyang staying in the club for the foreseeable future is very welcome for everyone concerned with the club and we will be hoping he crowns it with a goal or two against West Ham at the home of football.

Sayonara

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Thoughts on the Aubameyang Contract Situation

Quiz: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 50 Arsenal goals | Quiz | News ...

Aubameyang celebrates goal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the players in the current crop whose contract is scheduled to expire at the end of next season. David Luiz, Bukayo Saka, Mesut Ozil, Skhodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are in the same category, but it’s evident that if Arsenal has an option to keep one player from the aforementioned crop, it will be the man that has scored 61 goals in 97 appearances for the club, in just two-and-a-half seasons so far. 

Losing Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck on a free transfer was shameful to say the least, as both players sales would have contributed massively to the club’s coffers, especially with Ramsey being one of the sought after deep lying playmakers in his position, but Juventus acted swiftly and snapped the Welsh Jesus for free when they were supposed to have paid some good millions for him. This prompted the club’s Head of Football, Raul Sanllehi, to state clearly that the club will not allow ‘key players’ leave on a Bosman. A few years have gone since Sanllehi’s famous words and here we are again, with the potential to lose one of Europe’s most feared center forwards for nothing, should the club decide not to sell him this summer.

At least, Aubameyang has not done a Robin van Persie yet, saying things that would irk the Arsenal faithful, but he has said the right words, stating that he’s focused on Arsenal, as confirmed by the head coach, Mikel Arteta. Since Arteta joined the club in December 2019, his impact has been immense and there have been several reports from the playing staff confirming how he has steadied the ship that was sinking without trace under Ser Ebening. Arteta has already proved his worth in the Granit Xhaka situation, after it was evident that he was odds on to leave to Hertha Berlin in January 2020.

This Aubameyang contract situation leaves us with only three plausible options, which I intend to discuss anon.

  • Option One: Sell him off to the highest bidder and reinvest the money in another good center forward
  • Option Two: Play hard ball and shove off all potential suitors, allow him play his final campaign and let him go on a free transfer next summer
  • Option Three: Find a way to get him to sign da ting!!

Option One: Bye-Bye Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

It’s not a surprise that a quality player like Aubameyang approaching the last year of his contract with the club will be on the radars of the biggest clubs in the game, and when the Express reported that FC Barcelona declared their interest in signing the Arsenal ace, I was hopeful it was not going to materialize to something concrete. Barcelona will be a good fit for Aubameyang with legendary forward, Luis Suarez, in the September of what has been an illustrious career. The amount mentioned on these streets is £50 million, and it has also been reported by the Sun that Real Madrid is interested too.

Knowing that such big bad footballing wolves are huffing and puffing at the Emirates to blow the house down and get them some Aubameyang, the club’s resolve will be tested in the scenario where the player and his representatives don’t reach an amicable agreement with his contract. It’s not a good situation to be in, but for what its worth, Aubameyang will not be the first player to be in such a situation, and he will not be the last. 

Option Two: Serve Your Time and Leave for Free PEA…

Arsenal is no stranger to this option as the memories of the Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck situation is still fresh in our minds. With Welbeck, it was evident that the club was no longer interested with his services, especially with the litany of injuries and his overall inconsistent plays, not to forget those world famous air shots. It was the contractual situation with Aaron Ramsey that left a lot to be desired. There are several stories and conspiracy theories of what went down between the club and the player’s agents, but what we know for sure was that Ramsey loved the club so much that he gave Arsenal 11 years of his career, 369 appearances, 64 goals, one broken leg and of course, three FA Cups.

Seeing how he was moved to tears on his final presentation showed his class as a player and what Arsenal represented in his life.

The potential exists for the club to take the same approach with Aubameyang, you know, meet with his representatives in the course of the season with the hope for him to sign a new deal, after closing the door to all the vultures trying to get their claws on him this summer, only for the deal to break down and it becomes evident that the talismanic forward will be leaving on a free transfer.

Yeah, there will probably be some gnashing of teeth and despair among the Arsenal faithful, but as the saying goes,  soldiers come and go, but the barracks stay eternal.

Option Three: Find a Way to Get Aubameyang to Sign da Ting

Who remembers that protracted saga Arsenal had with Theo Walcott to sign a contract extension? At some point, it looked that Walcott was not going to renew that deal, despite all the attempts from the club, probaly some players and especially the fans to persuade him. We came close to another situation with Mesut Ozil, where he signed the famous £350,000 per week deal has become the stick we always use to flog him with. 

The Telegraph has reported an interesting article stating that Arsenal gaffer, Mikel Arteta, is at the forefront in the charge to convince Aubameyang to remain at the club,

Arteta is preparing to initiate talks and hopes to impress the 30-year-old and his father. Rather than leaving the matter in the hands of the club’s contract and transfer chiefs, Arteta believes he can make a difference by taking a hands-on approach to Aubameyang’s future.

He wants to convince Aubameyang that Arsenal can once again finish in the top four and compete for trophies.

Arteta is a much loved and respected figure at the club, forging a wonderful understanding with the fans in his playing days and doing his bit to bring that connection back to the fans as a manager. It is clear that since Arteta took over, there have been massive improvement at everything connected with Arsenal, from the style of play, to the results, to performances of some individuals that performed so poorly under Emery, to even the atmosphere at the Emirates.

He convinced the deposed wantaway club captain that his future still lies at the Emirates and Xhaka became an important cog in the midfield machine. When clubs were struggling with finances following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arteta convinced the players to take a 12.5% pay cut, which was hugely publicized, earning him the right plaudits. 

He will have it all to do to convince Aubameyang to commit his long term future to the club but with Arteta on the helm, the club has been on the right direction, and Aubameyang has seen it first hand. Going far in the Europa League would have represented the best chance to qualify for the Champions League, but the Gunners still have 10 games in the Premier League to at the very least, fight to the very end.

Finally, it still boils down to one player – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and we can only hope that he makes a decision that is best for him and Arsenal football club.

Sayonara.

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