Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and will not be selected for Wednesday’s match against West Ham, throwing the striker’s future at the club into doubt.
Arsenal manager Michael Arteta dropped Aubameyan from the squad that beat Southampton on Saturday for returning too late from a trip abroad.
The manager did not answer questions afterwards about the player’s status as club captain. But this was not Aubameyan’s first such offence and, as the club explained on Tuesday, Arteta’s patience is running out.
“Following his latest disciplinary breach last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will no longer be our club captain, and will not be considered for selection for Wednesday’s match against West Ham United,” the club said.
“We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed. We are fully focused on tomorrow’s match.”
Aubameyang and Arteta had been in discussions over the past three days before Arteta’s decision was made. Aubameyang has a long history of punctuality problems, which saw him benched for the Tottenham derby in March after he reported late.
It is also believed that similar infractions have occurred. Moreover, he was reminded of his responsibilities by the club in February after getting a tattoo in violation of Covid-19 regulations.
Arsenal have been sympathetic to his mother’s illness and hospitalisation due to malaria this year, although they have been compelled to act after what they deem an intolerable accumulation of breaches.
Despite captaining Arsenal against Southampton, Alexandre Lacazette’s long-term future remains unclear, and Arteta lacks senior players to step up.
With Granit Xhaka’s ill-fated captaincy unlikely to be repeated for any prolonged period, players like Kierney Tierney and Martin Ødegaard, who turns 23 on Friday but captains Norway, may have a chance.
The Gabonese forward signed a new three-year deal in September 2020 and is the club’s top earner. However, he has scored four Premier League goals so far this season and he is due to represent Gabon at the Africa Cup of Nations next month.
In the short term, Arsenal are prepared for life without him. Now that Arteta has taken such an open stance, his chances of seeing out that deal are now in doubt.