Mikel Arteta hints at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang exit after Arsenal captain controversy

Arteta reflects on 'unpleasant situation' as Aubameyang stripped of Arsenal captaincy

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta publicly blasted forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang earlier this week after the Gabon international was stripped of captaincy at the club. The fallout from the situation is far from over, and it could even be the final nudge that the player needs to leave the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal comfortably beat Southampton last weekend thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel.

However, the absence of Aubameyang from the squad due to a ‘disciplinary breach’ dominated the headlines instead.

It has been widely reported that Arteta made the decision after his captain returned from an authorised trip abroad late, which isn’t setting the best of examples to the new look, young Gunners side.

Football.London has revealed that Aubameyang and his team aren’t happy with how the captaincy was stripped so publicly, and Arteta has hardly reassured the player that he is part of the club’s plans going forward.

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Having been asked about where Aubameyang’s future lies ahead of the victory over the Saints, the manager replied: “Really, we have never discussed something like this, and when players are under difficulty – or the team is under difficulty – what we have to be is supportive.”

The response lacked conviction and felt like the former Gunners midfielder does not even see Aubameyang as a key player at the north London club.

Previously, the captaincy was shared amongst a group of players and it appears that Arteta is going to implement a similar system.

Speaking ahead of the game against West Ham on Wednesday night, in which Aubameyang will not feature, the manager said: “We have the leadership group and we think that we have different players that are nominated to be captain in the last game it was Laca (Alexandre Lacazette) and we have Granit (Xhaka) as well who has been captain so we will follow that,

“Obviously, it is a really unpleasant situation and it is not the moment to make any rash decision.”

Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding, though he may not play, are also those who have worn the captain’s armband previously and could step up to the mark if required to.

If Aubameyang does opt to depart then it could leave Arsenal with a fresh set of woes, especially if a January move is on the cards.

With Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah out of contract at the end of the season, the mantle would fall to 20-year-old Folarin Balogun – though he was expected to leave the club on a short term loan next month.

After spending £150million over the summer, it is clear to see that the higher powers of the Gunners aren’t afraid to back Arteta and commit to his vision.

And the Spaniard will be desperate to get another forward through the door if Aubameyang’s chances of getting back in the good books look slim.

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic have both been linked with moves to the Emirates recently, though their importance at their respective clubs would mean that a significant bid will be required to let them move.

It remains to be seen how Aubameyang’s situation pans out, he only has 18 months left on his current deal so if he is out of favour at the Emirates then it would be no surprise to see Arteta put the former club captain in the shop window sooner rather than later.

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