Punctuality is apparently not Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strong suit, and it has cost him the Arsenal captaincy.
Gunners chief Mikel Arteta has sacked Aubameyang as Arsenal captain following the forward’s latest infringement of club rules. It is not the first time that he has been sanctioned for such crimes, with similar problems arising at his current club and previously with Borussia Dortmund. The German team eventually grew tired of Aubameyang’s antics and transferred him to Arsenal, a play that also seemed to be the desired outcome for the player.
Could that same fate be in store for Aubameyang at Arsenal?
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When will Aubameyang play for Arsenal again?
The club announced that Aubameyang will not be available to be selected for the Premier League matchday 17 match with West Ham.
There has been no word of any suspension or banishment beyond that, and it appears that given the reported nature of the violation (late return from an authorized trip), any further punishment would be severe.
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Aubameyang could return as early as Saturday December 18, when Arsenal are scheduled to play Leeds United on the road, with an EFL Cup match at home against Sunderland scheduled for just three days later.
Arteta will also need Aubameyang for the busy holiday season, with five games between now and the end of the month. Arteta has been hiring Eddie Nketiah upfront more frequently lately, consuming Aubameyang’s minutes even before the disciplinary incident.
If Aubameyang accepts his punishment and returns, he would be an important part of Arsenal’s lineup for the next few weeks. But it is not known what impact the sanctions and the media attention of the last days will have had on the player, his teammates and the relationship with his coach.
What is Aubameyang’s contractual status at Arsenal?
Aubameyang’s current contract with Arsenal could help inform what options the Gunners might have when it comes to the player’s future at the club.
The 32-year-old signed a new three-year contract in September 2020, which means his current contract expires in June 2023, when he will be ready to turn 34.
That’s important because it means that if the Gunners don’t transfer the Gabonese forward this winter, he’ll enter the summer with just one year left on his contract, and his market value would presumably plummet if he didn’t have a stellar final season.
If Arsenal cannot get rid of him in the summer, he will play the final year of his contract and will be eligible to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club in the winter of 2023.
Will Arsenal transfer to Aubameyang in January?
It’s hard to say for sure what winter holds for Aubameyang, but if the club is to ditch its high salary, now might be the time. The longer the gunners wait, the less they can realistically expect a potential transfer fee.
Yet at 32, in relatively poor form (just four goals in 14 Premier League appearances this season), and emerging from a disciplinary problem, his value has already taken a hit. Arsenal could see more value in him playing the rest of his contract and allowing him to walk for free in 2023.
Tabloids in England and Spain have already begun to ponder possible transfer destinations, with the name of Barcelona surfacing. And the Catalan club could make sense for several reasons.
Aubameyang is likely to land a relatively reasonable transfer hit that would suit Barca’s strained financial situation. The Blaugrana are currently eighth in the La Liga table and have struggled to manufacture goals, a situation that was only exacerbated by the reported forced retirement of Sergio Agüero. However, Aubameyang would also come with high salaries, which could be problematic for Barcelona given the aforementioned financial constraints.
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Other named clubs have been Real Madrid and Chelsea, but there are reasons why both would be unlikely. Madrid comfortably lead La Liga and have no problems in the scoring department. And while a reunion with former Aubameyang Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is a good narrative, Champions League holder Chelsea also looks strong, and is currently just two points behind first place.
As unlikely as it sounds, it’s also possible that Arsenal can fix the situation, giving Aubameyang a season and a half to justify extending his stay. In this scenario, he would have a lot to prove on the pitch to convince the club that he is not starting to decline.
At the end of the day, time seems to be running out for Aubameyang’s career at Arsenal.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.