Shay Sachdev ’23
Former Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, has left the club via mutual consent on January 31, 2022, the final day of the winter transfer window. Just short of four years with the team, Aubameyang departed for FC Barcelona. But why did Aubameyang leave Arsenal? After all, the player had 18 months remaining on his current contract.
On September 15, 2020, Aubameyang officially signed a new Arsenal contract, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2023. This contract would see the Arsenal captain on a weekly wage of £350,000 (603,000 CAD) per week. During the summer of 2020, Aubameyang led the club to its fourteenth FA (Football Association) Cup trophy. Aubameyang has a superb solo effort in this game, netting two goals in the final against London rivals Chelsea FC. The announcement of Aubameyang signing the new contract had Arsenal fans going crazy.
Unfortunately for Aubameyang, last year’s season was one of the worst in his career. Aubameyang scored a total of 15 goals in 39 matches. He scored 29 goals in the 2019-20 season, and 31 goals in the 2019-19 season. Fans were not impressed with Aubameyang’s form. Their star player was underperforming the entire season, whilst collecting his heavy earnings.
However, should Aubameyang not be solely blamed for his goal-scoring droughts. The blame should be pushed onto Arsenal head coach, Mikel Arteta. Arsenal’s tactics were changed by Arteta at the start of last season, which went against Aubameyang’s playstyle. Aubameyang is more of a poacher and prefers to set up goals. Arteta’s tactics wanted the striker to come into tight areas and hold the ball up. On top of that, Aubameyang dealt with family issues and contracted malaria whilst on international duty with the Gabon National Soccer Team.
Throughout the current season, Aubameyang has not played badly. From September to mid-November, Aubameyang had more goals than many super-stars in the league. Some of these players include Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Aubameyang managed to lead the team to successful wins over the season, one of those wins being against arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Aubameyang was at his best, but then on December 11, 2021, he was suddenly dropped from the Arsenal team, against Southampton FC.
When Arteta was asked about Aubameyang’s absence he said, “Unfortunately due to a disciplinary breach … he’s not involved.” Aubameyang’s absence proceeded for the rest of his Arsenal career. Why would the club captain breach disciplinary rules? Close to a week before the match against Southampton, Aubameyang was permitted by the club to visit his ill family member in France. Aubameyang returned a day late due to complications with his COVID-19 test. As a result, Arteta decided to punish Aubameyang. This was seemingly done to force Aubameyang out of the club.
Now, Arsenal’s star-man is playing for Barcelona. A footballing legend, shamefully forced out of Arsenal. An unfair end to a distinguished career at the club.
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