There was a time when unrest at Arsenal was rare. For much of his reign, Arsene Wenger kept a tight ship – a ship that was helped by the Gunners winning lots of games. This, though, is no longer the case in North London as Mikel Arteta’s side continue to adapt to the club’s latest new regime.
The most notable recent example of this was the captaincy being stripped from Granit Xhaka after the Swiss player clashed with Arsenal fans in the midst of the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace back in October 2019. The fallout resulted in Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being named club captain. As these numbers show, it is a challenge to which Aubameyang rose well:
Aubameyang impressively ended February on a tally of 17 goals, of which almost a third (five) were decisive match winners. He remains in firm contention to win the golden boot outright, and numbers such as those show exactly why Arsenal are a popular draw when making the most of Oddschecker’s free bets when ‘Auba’ is in the squad, compared to when he is out.
Stick or twist question amid Barca links
However, with the Gabonese striker now the ‘wrong side’ of 30, he now approaches the final crossroads in his career. Though Aubameyang was recently linked with Barcelona, it is difficult to see how he could maintain a starting XI berth given the sheer competition he would face. Unlike Arsenal, Barcelona are a Champions League regular, and Catalonian conditioning is apparently second-to-none with Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Lionel Messi showing no signs at all of slowing up despite their advanced collective age.
Much would, as ever, be down to how Lionel Messi reacts alongside him. For all his skill, there are simply some players that Messi struggles to play alongside, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antoine Griezmann being respective past and present-day examples. As the undisputed king of the Camp Nou, Messi will not be moved for any newcomer, giving Aubameyang’s for-now hypothetical move to Barcelona an incredible sense of risk.
Mixing it up: Aubameyang flaunted his free-kick skills on top of his finishing ability, getting his third decisive matchwinner of the season against Aston Villa back in September 2019.
Old Trafford switch appears unlikely
Outside of Barca, there are other options. Aubameyang was linked with a move to Old Trafford in the previous transfer window, and in the event of them sneaking into the 2020/21 Champions League, the Red Devils would have no problem affording his wages. Manchester United are certainly short of a top-class striker, but the ill-fated 2018 swap deal that brought Alexis Sanchez to United may cool whatever interest may currently be simmering.
Naturally, the likeliest outcome is for Aubameyang to remain at Arsenal and ride out the uncertainties that still surround Arteta, with Champions League football seemingly out of the question now. The fans love Aubameyang at The Emirates, as they should with his immense scoring record. And that record is the only ray of hope as a dreadful season for Arsenal peters out.