Why Arsenal risks losing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
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After years of lighting up the Bundesliga with a superb goal scoring record for Borussia Dortmund, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stepped up to Arsenal. The Gabonese international moved to England in January 2018 with high hopes. Arsene Wenger was carrying out a major upgrade to improve the club’s results on the pitch. It was a move necessitated by the need to appease a large section of the club’s faithful who had been calling for his sack. Aubameyang was a marquee signing capable of improving any team.
Wenger went on to leave his position later that year as the club failed to make it to the Champions League. It was a time to start afresh and Unai Emery was the chosen one for "the next chapter". The Spaniard built his reputation at Sevilla leading the side to back-to-back Europa League crowns. His time at Paris Saint-Germain was not the most successful given the embarrassment of riches at the Parc des Princes. But the London side's hierarchy was convinced he could take the club to the next level...
Two seasons on, Arsenal is still struggling to make the top four. That, despite Aubameyang's productivity in front of goal. The Gabonese captain won the Golden Boot in the Premier League last term, after scoring 22 league goals, but the joy it brought was overshadowed by the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Needless to say, every top player worth his salt wants to test himself against the best and taste success in the biggest competition in club football. Having the opportunity to win it is fulfilling. But where that is not possible, playing in it becomes the next best thing. Aubameyang enjoyed that privilege at Dortmund and hoped to do even better at Arsenal.
Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, Champions League football has refused to grace the Emirates Stadium since his arrival. His former president at the German club, Hans-Joachim Watzke took a swipe at him on the matter, thereby rubbing salt into the wound. It's been a difficult situation to live with for the player; leading to speculation from several quarters concerning his future.
With his current deal at Arsenal set to expire in the summer of 2021, the striker will have just a year left on his contract at the end of this campaign. So far, the forward has shown no interest in committing to fresh terms, despite moves by the club to renew the deal.
Who can blame a player who knows he possesses the quality to play in any top team in the world and win laurels for wanting out of a stagnant team? Players usually have a limited time to play the game and must make the best of that time.
Aubameyang may be weighing his options now as he waits for the season to end. Another trophy-less campaign capped off with a failure to qualify for Europe's elite competition could be all he needs to make up his mind. If a club like Barcelona comes calling, leaving Arsenal will be a foregone conclusion.
Keeping Aubameyang at the Emirates Stadium for the foreseeable future should be an important goal for Arsenal. No forward at the club at the moment comes close to his quality. Alexandre Lacazette scored 13 league goals in 35 appearances last term but that was just over half of the former Dortmund man's output. The Frenchman has been hampered by injury early on this season, but his numbers will likely lag behind his new captain even when fit.
Another man expected to provide the goals is summer signing Nicolas Pepe. However, the Ivorian is yet to find the goalscoring touch that made the club break the bank to acquire him. It's unlikely his performance can lift Arsenal higher if Aubameyang departs in the summer. That makes keeping the Gabonese all the more important.
So what can the Gunners do to keep their prized asset?
There is no running away from the fact that the club's hierarchy needs to make a change at the dugout. Emery needs to leave Arsenal. The former Sevilla gaffer has clearly demonstrated in his two seasons in charge that he doesn't have the solution to the club's on-field problems. For a side that last won the Premier League in 2004 and needs to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, the current state of the team will leave it playing catch-up for years to come.
The 47-year-old has shown a deficiency in player signings, management, team selection, tactics, and even making of substitutions during games. It will take a new manager in the mould of Massimiliano Allegri or Erik ten Hag to fix these issues and get the team back to winning ways.
Therefore, taking the steps to make the necessary changes will convince the player to stay. The change will give both Arsenal and Aubameyang a better chance of playing in the Champions League and winning a trophy in the near future.