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Thoughts on the Aubameyang Contract Situation

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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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Kolasinac Injured, Nketiah Stays and Au-ban Upheld

Kolasinac injury

Sead Kolasinac has had his fair share of injuries since he joined the club, and this disrupted his chances of nailing a first team berth in the league. He had a consistent run out at the start of this season following Kieran Tierney injury problems and the club’s decision to offload Mr. Consistency himself, Nacho Monreal to Real Sociedad. 

Kolasinac managed to feature in 14 Premier League games, creating two assists for his teammates, but with Tierney suffering yet another injury that sidelined him till March, Kolasinac expected to continue his good run of games in the side, supporting his team from the left flank. However, the Bosnian is set to miss this weekend’s game against Sheffield United due to a thigh strain,

With the crucial clash against Chelsea coming just two days after the Sheffield game, we would not expect Kolasinac to start that game. His injury will give a chance for Bukayo Saka to feature as a make-shift full back, a position the youngster is not too comfortable with. 

Speaking of youngsters, Eddie Nketiah expected to make a loan move to Bristol City, after we wondered what the future held for him. His manager, Mikel Arteta, got a glimpse of him in recent training sessions and concluded that he will stay at the club for the rest of the season, rather than a loan spell for more match experience.

There are mixed feelings on the club’s decision to keep Nketiah for the remainder of the campaign. On one end, it was essential to give a talented youngster some much needed game time, as he did not play as much as expected in Leeds United, before the loan spell was recalled. On the other hand, Aubameyang’s suspension and Alexandre Lacazette’s poor form must have forced the manager’s hand to keep Nketiah.

The Gunners were hopeful that Aubameyang’s ban would be reduced, but the FA confirmed that he will serve his three-match suspension. This is a major setback to the club as the Gunners will have to cope without their talisman for the next three games. 

Sayonara

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Aubameyang: Can Arsenal Cope Without His Goals?

 

Aubameyang red card

Aubameyang getting sent off at Selhurst Park

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang received his marching orders in the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace and this has brought some despair to the Arsenal faithful, as the Gunners depend on their talisman for his goal scoring feats. 

For those that might care to ask: how dependent is Arsenal on Aubameyang?

His WhoScored.com statistics show that he scored 16 goals from 26 appearances this season. The table below gives a more detailed outlook of the importance of his 16 goals so far this season.

GOAL # OPPONENT (SCORELINE) AFTER HIS GOAL FINAL SCORES IMPACT POINTS GAINED
1 Newcastle (EPL) 0 – (1) 0 – 1 Match winner 3
2 Burnley (EPL) (2) – 1 2 – 1 Match winner 3
3 Tottenham (EPL) (2) – 2 2 – 2 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
4, 5 Watford (EPL) 0 – (1), 0 – (2) 2 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1
6 Eintracht Frankfurt (Europa) 0 – (3) 0 – 3 Consolation goal 3
7 Aston Villa (EPL) (3) – 2 3 – 2 Match winner 3
8 Manchester United (EPL) 1 – (1) 1 – 1 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
9 Wolves (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 1 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1
10 Eintracht Frankfurt (Europa) (1) – 0 1 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a loss 0
11, 12 Norwich (EPL) 1 – (1), 2 – (2) 2 – 2 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
13 West Ham (EPL) 1 – (3) 1 – 3 Consolation goal 3
14 Bournemouth (EPL) 1 – (1) 1 – 1 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
15 Chelsea (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a loss 0
16 Crystal Palace (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 1 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1

These are mind blowing stats especially when you consider that Arsenal has had 28 points from 22 league games this season, but Aubameyang has been directly involved in 19 points.

Behind him is the exciting Gabriel Martinelli with eight goals, disappointing Alexandre Lacazette with six, underwhelming club-record signing, Nicolas Pepe, with five and fledgling Joe Willock with four. Five players (David Luiz, Reiss Nelson, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bukayo Saka and Lucas Torreira) have two goals, while another five players (Dani Ceballos, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Shkodran Mustafi) have one. 

I decided to use this opportunity to dig through seasons past, so as to understand the concept of Arsenal’s goal scorers in previous campaigns

SEASON TOP THREE SCORERS
2011/12 Robin van Persie (37), Theo Walcott (11), Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Thomas Vermaelen (6)
2012/13 Theo Walcott (21), Olivier Giroud (17), Lukas Podolski (16)
2013/14 Olivier Giroud (22), Aaron Ramsey (16), Lukas Podolski (12)
2014/15 Alexis Sanchez (25), Olivier Giroud (19), Aaron Ramsey (10)
2015/16 Olivier Giroud (24), Alexis Sanchez (17), Theo Walcott (9)
2016/17 Alexis Sanchez (30), Theo Walcott (19), Olivier Giroud (16)
2017/18 Alexandre Lacazette (17), Aaron Ramsey (11) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Danny Welbeck (10)
2018/19 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (31), Alexandre Lacazette (19), Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey (6)

Like seasons past, there would always be that one alpha dog in Arsenal’s attack blasting in all the goals, but he must always get adequate support from his teammates. 

The manager has called on the rest of the squad to step up the plate with Aubameyang unavailable for the next three games,

“Losing probably the most important player is never nice. We have other players that can play in that position. We will try to find a way and be as competitive as possible.

They now have to make a step forward now he is not able to contribute to the team with goals. Someone else has to do it and I want to see that reaction too.”

Some may feel that I am harsh with my descriptions of Lacazette and Pepe, but like many Arsenal fans, I expected a whole lot more from them this season. Lacazette came off a 19-goal campaign last season and the fans wanted him to replicate that form, especially with him missing out on the World Cup last summer but he had an ankle injury that ruled him out for the early parts of the season. Nicolas Pepe on the other hand, has been adapting to the new league, but the patience of the fans is running thin, even though we remain hopeful that his form improves.

Gabriel Martinelli has scored more goals than Pepe and Lacazette despite featuring in a lesser amount of games, so I am excited to see what he has in store for us in the next three games. From the games he has featured, you can see his hunger, zeal and drive to make something happen any time he gets the ball at his feet. 

I am also hopeful that we get a couple of goals from midfield, even though the current lot in the starting XI haven’t shown any encouraging attacking returns all season long. Mesut Ozil is not a regular goalscorer but at least he chips in a few from time to time. He will certainly want to improve in 2020, as he had a record low for both goal and assists last year. Granit Xhaka on the other hand, blasts in those surface-to-goal piledrivers but he has not drifted forward too much in the campaign. 

The reality of the situation is that Arsenal will be without Aubameyang for the games against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bournemouth. The Gunners hierarchy are appealing for a reduced ban, but we can’t rely on the FA to give them what they are hoping for.

Let’s just hope the players have what it takes to make up for his absence through suspension.

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