Mikel Arteta can fulfil Arsenal transfer plan with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang decision

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s exile from the Arsenal squad proves Mikel Arteta is not willing to tolerate any disruption to his vision for Arsenal’s future

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Arteta quizzed about Aubameyang as Arsenal defeat West Ham

From the outside looking in, Mikel Arteta’s decision to banish Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the Arsenal first team fold looks as if it may disrupt the harmony in the squad.

But it may just be the final move the Spaniard has to make before he can truly call this squad his own and mount an assault for a top-four place.

The Gabonese has been stripped of the captaincy and left out of the last two matchday squads after arriving back late from a pre-approved personal trip. Reports suggest he will be exiled until after the African Cup of Nations and could be sold in January.

Despite his mild-mannered demeanour, Arteta is a disciplinarian and will not tolerate a player with Aubameyang’s laissez-faire attitude to his responsibilities.

It is certainly not the first transgression the 32-year-old has had and clearly, his manager expects better from the striker who was supposed to be his leader.

Mikel Arteta has shown his non-nonsense side by banishing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

“The decision we have taken as a club is very clear,” he explained before the 3-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.

“It is because we believe he has failed to be committed as the level we all expect and agree. It is as simple as that.

“What I expect from any person in this football club, that is representing this badge, is passion and that he gives absolutely 100 per cent, that he puts the club in front of any personal interests and is able to do anything to fulfil the badge we have on the chest.

“Apart from that, you can listen to individuals and you can understand different cultures, but that commitment and passion has to be there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.”

The warning signs were there when Mesut Ozil was exiled for not working hard enough on and off the pitch, while Matteo Guendouzi’s attempts to goad the Brighton players didn’t sit well with the Arsenal boss.

If a player steps out of line, Arteta has made it crystal clear that they will be punished and will need to force their way back into his plans by earning his respect again.

Have Your Say! Should Arsenal sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January transfer window? Comment below.

Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has been stripped off the captaincy and dropped by Mikel Arteta

But in the prolonged absence of Aubameyang, it appears Arsenal are actually finding form — and perhaps bringing back the former captain would be counterintuitive at this point.

The Spaniard was quizzed on whether Aubameyang would play against Leeds earlier this week, to which responded: “No news. He wasn’t eligible for this game and that’s it.”

The issue is likely to die down somewhat when the striker jets off for international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations in January. And his absence from the Arsenal camp will give Arteta an opportunity to focus on preparing his side for their fight for Europe.

Arteta has nearly completed building the side he needs to bridge the gap to the top four. He spent heavily over the summer, to the tune of around £150m, to bring in the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Odegaard.

And it is fair to say that some five months into their Arsenal careers, the quartet have shown a lot of promise, slotting into the Gunners’ squad smoothly. Add in the likes of Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe and this Arsenal team arguably has a solid template for future success.

The manner in which they dismantled West Ham, who are certainly no pushovers, in front of their home crowd was impressive, even if refereeing decisions did go their way. Arteta was fired up and that translated to the players and crowd.

Arsenal celebrated a 2-0 win over West Ham at the Emirates Stadium

With Manchester United and Tottenham both underachieving and having games postponed due to Covid, there is no better time for Arteta’s men to get points on the board and take their position.

But what this episode may give Arsenal and their revitalised manager is a chance to look beyond Aubameyang after three-and-a-half years at the club with their next move in the transfer market.

The player that scored 22 goals in the 2019-20 season to jointly win the Golden Boot is gone — this version of Aubameyang is nowhere near as lethal, nor is he feared by opposition defenders anymore.

At the same time, the striking options at his disposal need improving. Alexandre Lacazette is not getting any younger and only has two goals to his name in 12 Premier League appearances.

Likewise, Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun have struggled to make an impact when they have played — and that could force Arteta to look elsewhere.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Dusan Vlahovic, two classic centre forwards, have been linked with a move to north London in January, although such an investment — around £60m — would surely require players to be sold first.

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been linked with Arsenal ahead of the January transfer window

Mason Greenwood has also been linked with a shock move to the Emirates, but prising the 20-year-old away from Old Trafford would take some effort and likely a club-record transfer.

Barcelona have been tipped to move for Aubameyang and rescue him from the December cold in London after being frozen out by Arteta, which would remove around £250,000-a-week from the wage bill.

And if the 39-year-old coach can find a suitable replacement, it may well be time to find out for sure whether this Arsenal side — initially built for the future years — can deliver a successful season now.

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