Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has repeatedly been making the headlines ahead of the summer transfer window as his future at Arsenal appears more uncertain than ever.
The Gunners skipper is only two weeks away from entering the final year of his contract with the club and there have been no signs of an extension agreement from either party.
Speaking to Telefoot over the weekend, the striker hinted that the present delay in negotiations is down to the north London outfit and not him. He was quoted as saying:
“Recently I have not received an offer to extend but of course we have had exchanges with the club, for a fair few months now. They know very well why so far nothing has happened. They have the keys. It’s up to them to do their work and after that, we will see how things go.
“As you said it is a turning point in my career, and I will be very frank with everyone, it will certainly be a very difficult decision to make. Because I still have not decided and we will see. It will maybe be the most important decision of my career.”
Mikel Arteta’s justified fears over Aubameyang exit
Mikel Arteta appears to be keen on retaining Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s services as he admitted that Arsenal must show the striker that their ambitions match his own in Monday’s Zoom press conference. He said:
“I think it’s our responsibility to make him feel that this is the right next step in his career. In order to do that he needs to feel valued. He needs to feel that he belongs to us and that we want him – and then he really needs to believe we can take this club forward in the way we want to do. He’s going to be a key player to do that.”
It’s easy to see why the former Manchester City assistant manager is eager to keep the Gabon international at the club.
Since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2018, the striker has scored 61 times in 97 appearances in all competitions for the London giants, which include 49 goals in 75 appearances in the Premier League.
Only Egyptian ace Mohamed Salah has more league goals in the same time frame with 50 strikes for Liverpool.
The former BVB man is easily the most consistent goalscorer in the current Gunners squad and averages 0.66 goals per game in the English top flight, putting him above some of the best-attacking players to have graced the league including Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba.
What makes his feats more impressive is the fact that he achieved them while playing for a side that has been struggling since his arrival.
So, whether they like it or not, Arsenal will be forced to consider where the goals are going to come from if they do sell Aubameyang, especially when the current crop of players look unlikely to pick up the slack.
They will also have to ponder on the kind of replacement that will be available to them when the transfer market opens in the current unprecedented climate.
Can Aubameyang’s potential exit benefit Arsenal?
The next few weeks are incredibly significant for Arsenal- especially from a business standpoint- as they try to navigate contract negotiations for multiple players against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis.
One of the financial repercussions due to the pandemic has already made its way into the club in the form of a 12.5 per cent pay cut- for players, core staff and the head coach- that was forced through to balance their wage bills.
So, the question arises: can the club afford to give Aubameyang a massive pay-rise as part of a much-awaited contract extension, especially in the current climate?
Such a decision would simply mirror the Mesut Ozil saga where the Premier League giants committed themselves- expensively one might add- to a player who is entering the twilight years of his career.
Aubameyang, who turns 31 this month, is currently one of the favourites in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot and is easily one of the best strikers in the top flight but denying the limitations that come with age would be an ignorant move on the board’s part.
Moreover, the present negotiation stalemate highlights a far more important problem within the Emirates outfit; one that has allowed quality players like Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck leave the club for free.
Arsenal’s officials have been guilty of some of the worst transfer businesses in recent memory, headlined by the infamous Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap.
They have also allowed far too many world-class players, including the likes of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Bacary Sagna, to enter the final year of their deals in the past decade and leave for a significantly lower fee or for nothing.
Despite Raul Sanllehi’s insistence that player contracts will be better managed, Aubameyang still finds himself entering the last twelve months of his contract despite being the Gunners’ best player this season.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan have all been linked with the former Borussia Dortmund man ahead of the summer transfer window and Arsenal now stand to lose not only a world-class player who guarantees 20-25 league goals a season but also a lot of money as they will not be able to sell him for a massive fee with one year left in his contract.
Add to this the fact that most clubs will not be willing to pay a hefty amount for an ageing player due to the coronavirus-induced economic collapse and you’ve got yourself a business headache.
If Aubameyang confirms that he will not be signing a contract extension with the club soon, the board will have to decide whether they will sell him for a fraction of his worth this summer or let him leave on a free transfer next year.
Should the situation hit this juncture, the London giants should settle for no other option but to sell their captain, even in a cut-price deal, as this decision would mean pocketing money that could be used to buy a replacement, whose costs are also likely to see a significant fall in the upcoming market.
This move would also allow a crop of talented young players, including Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli and natural winger Bukayo Saka, to secure more game-time and to thrive under the ambitious Arteta, who will be keen on rotating and rebuilding the squad to fit his standards for his first full season as manager.
While parting with your most-prized asset is certainly not ideal in any circumstance, the decision to sell Aubameyang if he refuses to sign an extension could be viewed as an advantage, especially if the only other choice is to let him leave for free.
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