Mikel Arteta provided few assurances Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a future at Arsenal after he was stripped of the club’s captaincy.
Arteta left Aubameyang out of the squad for the 3-0 weekend defeat of Southampton, confirming afterwards that the Gabon international was dropped for disciplinary reasons.
Aubameyang was reported to have returned to the club late after being granted a trip abroad, though Arteta did not elaborate on what the striker was being punished for.
The club confirmed on Tuesday that Aubameyang has had the armband taken from him and he will not be in the squad to face West Ham on Wednesday, despite Arteta appearing to indicate at the weekend that he could be involved against the Hammers.
A few hours after Arsenal’s announcement, Arteta addressed the media ahead of Wednesday’s match and he gave no indication that the club and Aubameyang retain a healthy working relationship.
Arteta was asked several times if Aubameyang had a future at the club or if he had played his last Arsenal game, but his responses were devoid of optimism.
“We need a bit of time,” he said. “It needs a bit of time to heal. For now he’s not involved in the squad.”
Pressed on whether Aubameyang, who is contracted until 2023, could be sold in January, he added: “All I can say right now is we have made this decision, which is a tough one.
“I wouldn’t like to be sitting here talking about [this]. For now, he’s not involved. What I can say as for now, it’s been a lot to digest. It’s a difficult decision to make, it will take a bit of time.
“What I can tell you now, we made this because we are hurting. It needs a time to heal and he’s not involved.
“Since I’ve been here, the relationship has been really good. That’s why it’s painful.”
Arteta has not appointed a new captain yet and does not look likely to do so for a while, suggesting the existing leadership group will take it in turns to have the armband.
An update on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 14, 2021
“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.
“That leadership group is really strong, it is the one that communicates with myself and the coaching staff and then with the club in a really clear and strong way.
“We are going to continue like that and that is one of the decisions that we made, to make that group a little bit better and try to educate them and try and get the right feedback all the time and build that trust and the strong culture around the club. It is working really well so we will continue to do that.
“It is really important, but for me having the leadership group is something that has been tremendously helpful because then you get different voices. It is a really multicultural dressing room that needs a lot of attention and different feelings and different languages.
“They all have to be involved and I am really comfortable with that.”
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