Arsenal announced today that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a new three-year contract with the club. The deal is reportedly worth in excess of £250,000-a-week.
Aubameyang’s signing comes in the wake of Arsenal’s 0-3 win over Fulham Athletic on Saturday.
Aubameyang joined Arsenal on Deadline Day in 2018 and was the final player to be signed by Arsène Wenger before he stepped down a few months later and was the club’s record signing before Nicolas Pépé.
Aubameyang’s original contract, that he signed when joining Arsenal, came with an option for the club to extend his deal by an extra year, but it’s thought that neither Aubameyang or Arsenal were interested in activating that clause as it represented a large financial outlay for the club and did not provide Aubameyang with the kind of security that he was looking for.
The signing of a new contract represents a major coup for Arsenal and for head-coach Mikel Arteta, who played a significant part in persuading the striker to sign. Arteta knows how important Aubameyang is to his project with Arsenal and how vital it is that the Gabon hitman has committed his future to the club; it is therefore no surprise that the Spaniard personally got involved in convincing Aubameyang to sign his new deal.
Aubameyang’s career has seen him play in several countries across Europe, starting his career with Italian side AC Milan, which was followed by four hit or miss loan deals at Dijon FCO, AS Monaco and AS Saint-Étienne, joining the latter on a permanent basis in 2011.
Aubameyang’s time at Saint-Étienne was his big breakout, scoring an impressive 41 goals in 97 matches in all competitions.
From there, Aubameyang caught the eye of then Borussia Dortmund scout (and later Arsenal Head of Recruitment) Sven Mislintat. Mislintat had to convince Dortmund manager Jürgen Klopp about Aubameyang’s abilities, highlighting his tactical versatility of being able to play through the middle and out wide as the main rationale for signing him for a reported fee of €15m.
Klopp was initially unconvinced on Aubameyang, who came with a reputation of being something of an enigma off the field. Aubameyang’s penchant for flashy, fast cars and even wearing a pair of Swarovski crystal encrusted boots, led the German to believe that Aubameyang would be too difficult to manage.
Aubameyang’s time at Dortmund was hugely successful, winning the DFB-Pokal and two DFL-Supercups with the club and also scored 141 goals in 213 games, which placed him as Dortmund’s sixth all-time goalscorer and was only 34 goals off of breaking the all-time record, something he was on course to do.
Aubameyang’s time at Dortmund was not without controversy, he was disciplined by the club multiple times and the forward grew tired with the club’s reassurances that they would sell him if the right offer came in, however, after selling Ousmane Dembélé to Barcelona (a transfer that Dortmund had assured Aubameyang would not happen) Dortmund were unable to lose Aubameyang as well and he remained put, which led to further controversies.
In January of 2018, Arsène Wenger found the culture of the club changing around him, the aforementioned Sanllehí and Mislintat now held important positions at the club and before long, Wenger found himself in need of goals, with Alexis Sánchez swapped with Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Aubameyang’s former teammate at Dortmund) and Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin sold, Arsenal smashed their transfer record (which they had broken only six months prior with Alexandre Lacazette) to sign Aubameyang.
Like Klopp before him, Wenger had needed convincing of Aubameyang’s profile. Though Arsenal had always held a vested interest in the player, his antics off the field proved to be the same issue for Wenger as it had for Klopp and Mislintat once again proved to be the catalyst to move the forward to Arsenal for a then club record of £56m.
Aubameyang hit the ground running and ended Wenger’s final few months with an eye watering 10 goals in 14 matches. After Unai Emery was appointed, Aubameyang carried on as he had under Wenger and was an integral part in Arsenal’s journey to the UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea in Azerbaijan and was the joint winner of the Premier League Golden Boot award alongside Liverpool’s Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.
Though Emery’s tenure ended in disaster, he proved under Mikel Arteta his worth and after Granit Xhaka’s public stripping of the captaincy, Aubameyang has since been the unchanged leader of the team, a role the forward relishes.
Aubameyang was key in Arsenal’s most recent victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup final as the club equalled their impressive record in the competition to fourteen wins. He ended the season on 22 goals in the league and was only one shy of defending his Golden Boot from the previous season, losing out to Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy.
Arteta has spoken about the importance of the club capturing Aubameyang’s signature ever since he took charge in December and has been publicly confident that the forward would sign. There are thoughts around the club that Arteta’s presence has helped the club secure the deal and there are thoughts that Aubameyang would likely not have extended if Arteta’s former long-term predecessor were in charge.
Aubameyang’s signing also breaks a long-dormant Arsenal habit of allowing their best players to leave as a direct result of their contracts running out, which has meant the club has been forced to either hastily sell below market price or to let them walk free at the end of their deals, a fate which has befallen, to different extents, Bacary Sagna, Robin van Persie, Alexis Sánchez, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.
Aubameyang reportedly loves playing under Arteta and is happy to help the team in any way he can, even if it means having to play in his lesser favoured wide position, as opposed to the central role he so delights in.
The deal represents a major win for Arsenal and is testament to the impressive work that Arteta has done since joining the club and gives the club more to build-on after tying down Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli down to new long-term contracts earlier in the season.
With Aubameyang’s contract all tied-up, Arsenal’s attention now turns to their transfer window, which stands to be their most important in recent memory, with Arteta reportedly targeting a central midfielder with Atlético Madrid’s Thomas Partey thought to be high on Arteta’s agenda.