Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and will not be selected to play West Ham.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and will not be selected for Wednesday’s match against West Ham, throwing the striker’s future at the club into doubt.
Mikel Arteta dropped Aubameyang from the squad that beat Southampton on Saturday over returning late from a trip abroad and the manager afterwards refused to take questions on the player’s status as club captain. But it was far from the 32-year-old’s first such offence and, as Arsenal made clear in a statement on Tuesday, Arteta’s patience has run out.
“Following his latest disciplinary breach last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will no longer be our club captain, and will not be considered for selection for Wednesday’s match against West Ham United,” the club said.
“We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed. We are fully focused on tomorrow’s match.”
Arteta’s decision was made jointly with the club’s hierarchy and comes after discussions with Aubameyang over the past three days. Punctuality issues have dogged Aubameyang in the past, the most high-profile seeing him dropped to the bench for the derby against Spurs in March after he reported late. Similar infractions are also understood to have taken place. Additionally, he was reminded of his responsibilities by the club in February after apparently breaching Covid-19 regulations to get a tattoo.
Arsenal have been sympathetic to other off-pitch issues this year, such as a serious illness to his mother and a bout of malaria that hospitalised him, but have been compelled to act after that they see as an intolerable cumulation of breaches.
Alexandre Lacazette captained Arsenal against Southampton but his long-term future is unclear and Arteta is short of senior players capable of stepping up. Granit Xhaka’s ill-fated captaincy is unlikely to be repeated over a longer period so players such as Kieran Tierney and Martin Ødegaard, who only turns 23 on Friday but is captain of Norway, may come into the reckoning.
Aubameyang signed a new three-year deal in September 2020 and is the club’s highest earner. But he has only scored four Premier League goals this season and, given he is due to represent Gabon at the Africa Cup of Nations next month, Arsenal are already prepared for short-term life without him. His prospects of seeing out that deal will be under question now that Arteta has taken such firm action.