Kieran Tierney backed to become next Arsenal captain despite Mikel Arteta problem

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Arsenal legend Martin Keown believes Kieran Tierney could be the man to lead the Gunners forward but holds reservations over his relationship with manager Mikel Arteta

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Arteta reflects on ‘unpleasant situation’ as Aubameyang stripped of Arsenal captaincy

Martin Keown has tipped Kieran Tierney to succeed as Arsenal captain despite an apparent “strained ” relationship with manager Mikel Arteta.

The Spanish coach is on the lookout for a new figurehead to lead the Gunners after star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of his responsibilities following a disciplinary breach.

The Gabonese forward was excluded from Arsenal’s weekend clash with Southampton and is now set to be frozen out indefinitely after reportedly returning late from a trip abroad.

The breach is his latest indiscretion having previously been dropped for the north London derby back in March for arriving late to a team meeting.

With Arteta yet to appoint Aubameyang’s successor, former Arsenal stalwart Keown believes the “standout” Tierney would be the ideal replacement, but expressed his concerns over everything not appearing quite right between the full-back and his manager.

“Now Arteta has acted, he’s got the chance to select his own skipper,” Keown wrote in his Daily Mail column. “Under his management, I believe Kieran Tierney has been the standout player who could fulfil that role.

“But Tierney’s relationship seemed strained with his manager recently when he returned from injury and wasn’t brought straight back into the team.”

The 24-year-old Scot missed Arsenal’s Premier League wins over Aston Villa and Leicester in late October after picking up a knock in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates.

After recovering from injury, Tierney then found himself benched for the next four fixtures as Arteta opted to deploy summer signing Nuno Tavares at left-back instead.

While Tierney has been reinstalled for the games against Everton and Southampton since, Keown questions then motives behind Arteta’s decision to exclude the Scot from his starting XI.

In addition to highlighting Tierney as potential captain material, the former Arsenal defender also picked out a number of other names, but hinted at reservations over age and experience.

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“There are other contenders, although for Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Gabriel, it feels early days in their development at the club,” he noted.

“They’re all young, none of them older than 24, but then Tony Adams became captain at 21 so age shouldn’t work against any of these candidates.”

The former Arsenal defender also expressed his concerns about the timing of the decision and believes Arteta’s handling of the Aubameyang situation could cause concerning unrest for the player and his teammates.

“It’s a bold decision by Mikel Arteta,” Keown added. “Clearly the relationship had broken down to the point where he felt a change was necessary.”

“Arteta inherited Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a captain from Unai Emery.

“I do feel a change in captaincy could have waited until the end of the season – the media-storm that this will create could distract to the group and for Aubameyang himself, there will be a great deal of humiliation and welcoming him back into the team will be difficult.

“It’s hugely important that he gets this call right. It will tell us a lot about he believes in the most out of this crop of players.”

Arteta will be hoping his Arsenal side can draw attention away from the Aubameyang affair with three points against high-flying London rivals West Ham on Wednesday night, knowing a win at the Emirates would see the Gunners leapfrog their opponents and enter the Premier League ‘s top four.