Mikel Arteta’s “non-negotiable” claim increases pressure on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Southampton due to a disciplinary issue – the time is right for Mikel Arteta to ditch his unreliable captain

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In pictures: Arsenal v Southampton

Arsenal’s emphatic 3-0 win over Southampton on Saturday was marred by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence for a disciplinary issue.

The Gabon international has endured a torrid time in front of goal for the Gunners recently.

His lack of form gave Mikel Arteta little choice but to drop the club captain from his starting line-up in the recent 2-1 loss to Everton.

Arteta moved to quash any talk of a rift between the pair after that call – making it crystal clear that he snubbed Aubameyang simply because he can’t be trusted in front of goal at the moment.

But the Spaniard’s latest comments on Aubameyang prove once and for all that Arteta can’t rely on the 32-year-old full-stop, with the boss reiterating his “non-negotiable” stance during his post-match interview.

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Arteta said prior to the Southampton match: “Unfortunately due to a disciplinary breach. I think we have been very consistent that we have certain non-negotiables in the team that we have set ourselves as a club, and he’s not involved today.”

After the game, he added: “He had a disciplinary breach, that applies to everybody. That’s a non-negotiable and when that happens he’s out of the team.

“Whatever happens in the dressing room, I cannot share. I am sorry. I’m telling you the reason, I cannot lie, it was that, this is where I stand. From my side, I will never [say what the breach was.]”

Alarmingly, this isn’t the first time that Arteta has had to discipline his captain.

Aubameyang was benched and fined after showing up late to the North London Derby back in March – a game that the Gunners won without their skipper.

Reports have indicated that Aubameyang has landed himself in hot water again for a similar issue.

For someone like Aubameyang, who should be the club role model on and off the pitch, to let Arteta down twice for the same issue is criminal. To do it twice within the space of a few months is unforgivable.

Unfortunately for Arteta, it’s now abundantly clear that he has to continue on his mission to restore Arsenal to their former glory without Aubameyang.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now for the striker who has struggled to justify his bloated £350,000 a week pay packet.

Ever since penning his new deal, his influence on the pitch has waned drastically.

The fact that Arteta hauled off his captain late in the day in the recent defeat to Manchester United, and introduced Eddie Nketiah, the academy graduate who’s netted just five Premier League goals in five seasons, ahead of Aubameyang in the Everton defeat, sums up the veteran’s demeaning fall from grace.

Even if there are no interested suitors in taking on Aubameyang’s bloated salary, the Gunners have to move on.

The Emirates hierarchy have already shown that they’ll back Arteta with funds after a £150m spending splurge last summer.

And it’s time for the Kroenke family to dig deep once again in order to sign a new striker.

Arsenal were arguably one of the only top teams in the Premier League who didn’t seem to be overly bothered with pursuing a striker in the summer.

But that has to change now following Aubameyang’s latest indiscretion.

The Gunners’ London rivals Chelsea went all out to sign Romelu Lukaku in a club-record deal, and Arsenal need to follow their lead when it comes to their transfer strategy next year.

Where that would leave Aubameyang if he can’t find a move away is unclear.

But that isn’t Arteta’s problem – and there will be few Arsenal fans who will grieve for their disgraced captain right now.

It may be Aubameyang’s shortcomings on the pitch that should convince Arsenal to go all-in on signing a striker next summer.

But it’s his continued incompetence off it that means it’s a decision that’s easy to make.