Arsenal have confirmed that former-captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has joined La Liga side Barcelona on a free transfer. Despite the timing of the announcement, it is exactly 4 years to the day that the Gabonese forward joined the club.
Aubameyang has long been admired by Barcelona, with the Spanish giants keen to sign the player before he signed his new contract at the beginning of last season.
The past month or so has been the beginning of the end for the Gabon striker, with him being stripped of the captaincy and then dropped from the team. In fact, Mikel Arteta has been extremely keen to keep the former captain out of the side, even when the team has been short on numbers.
Ever since signing his new contract, Aubameyang’s form has been extremely disappointing, scoring a modest 22 goals in 54 appearances.
The decision to cancel Aubameyang’s contract is perhaps proof if proof were needed that Arsenal are looking to rid themselves of the Gabon forward’s wages as soon as possible.
The deal also means that Arsenal are very light on numbers at the moment too. Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, both of whom are now entering the final 6 months of their respective deals, are now the only remaining natural strikers left at the club. Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pépé have both filled in in the position in the past, but Arsenal would be reluctant to drop a natural striker unless they absolutely needed to.
With Aubameyang’s departure, Arsenal once again have to re-consider their approach to the renewals of contracts. Mesut Özil was on a £300,000-+-a-week deal and he too was hurried out the back door only 12 months ago.
Aubameyang is now the 7th player in 4 years to have his contract terminated by the club.
While Arsenal fans will likely be angry that yet another attacking enforcement is allowed to leave, it is a definite sign of ruthlessness from the club. Aubameyang will no longer be carried and Arsenal have made it clear that they want deadwood cleared from their wage bill and that they will not carry players who are not fully committed to the project.
This now leaves questions over Arsenal’s top 4 push for this season. While Aubameyang has been more of a hindrance than a help and his presence will no longer be particularly missed, Arsenal will now only have Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette to tide them over until the summer.
The window has since slammed shut and Arsenal’s inability to sign a striker (despite credible links to Dušan Vlahović and Alexander Isak) is a massive gamble and only time will tell if it’s one that pays off as Arsenal continue to chase the elusive Champions League spot.