Mikel Arteta has spoken out on the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saga that saw the Gabonese striker leave Arsenal in a shock move to Barcelona in January. The recent Arsenal All or Nothing series gives fans an insight into what really happened behind the scenes prior to Aubameyang’s sensational departure from the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners made the decision to remove the 33-year-old as club captain after failing to demonstrate the “commitment and passion” to play for the club before his transfer to Barcelona.
Martin Odegaard was confirmed as the club’s new captain ahead of the 2022/23 season with Arteta praising the 23-year-old for representing ‘the values of this football club, the team, the teammates and the staff in the best possible way’.
Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a fee in the region of £58million, but after a number of disciplinary breaches he joined Barca and is now being linked with a shock return to the Premier League to join London rivals Chelsea.
Speaking ahead of the game against Leicester this weekend, Arteta was asked if he had any regrets regarding the way he handled the Aubameyang saga earlier this year. The Arsenal boss responded:
“Listen, it’s a long time since that happened, I cannot go back each time there is a series. “I have made my comments on that. I was really clear and honest with my opinion. What has been done has always been done to defend the club and put it in the best possible position, and be always as clear as, honest and consistent as we can.
“Auba is an exceptional player. He did so much for us. He was our captain and I think we have to be grateful, very grateful as well, for what he did for this club.”
The Gunners signed Gabriel Jesus to replace both Aubameyang and Lacazette, with the Brazilian having enjoyed a stellar start to his Arsenal career after a stellar pre-season tour and impressive start to the season.
Arsenal are thought to be interested in signing another attacker before the transfer deadline, and Arteta was quizzed as to whether the fans would give the 33-year-old a warm reception if he ever returned to the Premier League.
“I hope he does because I think he deserves that,” Arteta added. “There are moments in life, there are moments in your career, and sometimes the trajectory or the objective of each individual is different to the clubs – and you have to respect that.”
football.london understand that talks with Barcelona over the striker’s sale are ongoing, though it remains to be seen whether the former Arsenal captain favours a move to west London. Thomas Tuchel is said to be eager to reunite with the Gabon international who prospered under his stewardship at Borussia Dortmund.