SportsJuana is your ultimate home for the latest news, in-depth analysis with an abundant variety that leaves you hungry for interesting and path-breaking content.

Arteta is a professional to the extreme since his playing days and suffers no fools as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang soon realised. (Image Credit: Getty Images)
English Premier League Football Latest Opinion

Aubameyang’s exit serves tragic reminder of the ghost that haunts Arsenal

Arteta is a professional to the extreme since his playing days and suffers no fools as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang soon realised. (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Arteta is a professional to the extreme since his playing days and suffers no fools as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang realised. (Image Credit: Getty Images)

As Barcelona signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a deep sense of despair and anguish was experienced by the Arsenal fans. It hadn’t been long after Aubameyang, who was finally expected to break Arsenal’s captaincy curse, was handed over a fresh contract following the FA Cup triumph in 2020. There were visible signs of revival and a genuine hope prevailed that manager Mikel Arteta along with Aubameyang would herald a new era of development and progress at a club, which had battled wilderness for a long time. In many ways, Arsenal’s fall from grace could be mirrored in the way their captains have left the club in the lurch with their actions.

To make a reference from the ‘Trojan War’, the captaincy curse at Arsenal looks far more complicated than anything which Era, the ‘Goddess of discord’ could have triggered. Aubameyang offered the greatest hope that his appointment would alter the course, but recent events have brought a horrific feeling of ‘deja vu’ to the fans.

Aubameyang’s arrival in 2018 marked an end to the club’s frantic hunt for a genuine goal-scoring threat. After deals with Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema and Jamie Vardy fell through at different instances, the wait seemed really worth it after the Gabonese striker came to North London. What stood out the most was how he seamlessly transitioned himself into the Premier League without any hiccups. A real crowd puller and a wonderful human being, it was no surprise why the supporters quickly resonated with his style and goal-scoring flair.

Forging a formidable strike partnership with Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang was drafted into the leadership group by then manager, Unai Emery. Following Granit Xhaka’s ouster from the role of club captain, Emery handed over the reins to Aubameyang and the added responsibility brought him further closer with the fans.

As Aubameyang started to rack goals for fun, it brought back vivid memories of Thierry Henry to many Arsenal supporters who rejoiced at having found a near-perfect replacement of their arguably greatest ever striker. In his first two seasons at the club, the attacker remained the only outstanding performer in a rather sub-par group that failed to put up a strong front, for a position in the Top 4. He shouldered the responsibility of scoring goals, which was essential for a system that for a long time was prone to succumbing under pressure.

A brief look at the scoreline of the games in those seasons serve enough proof to assert why he was such a pivotal member of the team. Though he made no secret of his willingness to be deployed on the left flank, Aubameyang gladly obliged to play from the middle, which allowed young guns like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to thrive from wider positions. From his brace in the North London derby in 2018 to his goals in the FA Cup final of 2020, Arsenal’s reliance on him continued till the very last game that he played. Aubameyang’s lacklustre form after his contract extension in 2020 was the first sign of the impending danger that was to come soon.

While battling for form, he was further affected by malaria and COVID-19. However, there were no clear signs of any fall-out with Arsenal. At no point did it seem like relations were strained, as fans perceived it as a natural dip in the form which will soon reverse its course. However, Aubameyang made the fatal mistake of following up his on-field inefficiency with blunders off the field, reporting late on multiple occasions leaving Arteta who had been an ally for long, livid at his behaviour. The attacker was soon stripped of his captaincy with the Arsenal manager making a public statement about the same.

For a club that has always attempted to ensure positive PR through thick and thin, this was an extremely bold move by their standards, considering the decision to take on a popular figure like Aubameyang, which could very easily have backfired. However, Arteta who is a professional to the extreme since his playing days, suffers no fools as the attacker soon realised. Arteta has been resolute in dictating terms on how his players should conduct themselves, and not even his star player could be exempted. A move to Barcelona was pushed through by Arsenal, with the club intervening when discussions on a potential deal fell through due to the wages demanded.

We can only contemplate so much to understand in greater detail, what could have gone so wrong for such a dramatic turnaround, where both parties had to part ways through ‘mutual consent’, rather than extending an opportunity to Aubameyang to rediscover himself on loan at Barcelona, before returning. Bigger questions could be raised about Arteta’s man-management if this decision backfires and could well go on to determine the Spaniard’s legacy. Such sudden escalation in tension and the hasty decisions that followed could prove to be hazardous if Arteta doesn’t translate the same level of command and authority to Arsenal’s game.

Part of a manager’s job is to deftly deal with players who are tough to handle. Arteta’s insistence on discipline might have far-reaching repercussions as Arsenal will have to now trod through the rest of the season without a quality striker. Those fans who are not on board with his vision are sure to draw on this rhetoric.

(Image Credit: Twitter/@Auba)

Before his arrival at Arsenal, Aubameyang was a prominent member of a Borussia Dortmund side nurtured under the tutelage of none other than Jurgen Klopp himself. Entering into his late twenties, Aubameyang managed to maintain astounding levels of fitness, far surpassing his age. He also struck a wonderful relationship with the teammates, which reflected both on-field and off-field as well. All this considered, it is almost unbelievable to imagine such a controversial exit for an extremely popular figure like Aubameyang.

On the brighter side, this might result in Martinelli featuring in more matches and playing an important role in helping the club secure a place in the Top-4. Aubameyang’s exit may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Brazilian.

Arsenal’s current pattern of recruitment clearly underlines the fact that young players are being preferred. The club’s departures in recent times have mostly comprised older players who can safely be dubbed as deadwood. Further Arsenal’s ‘captaincy curse’ continues to haunt them following Aubameyang’s tragic exit with Henry, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Xhaka, Mesut Ozil the other captains who transformed for the worse after being handed the premier responsibility. While wilfully waiting for the mystery to unfold even further, fans will be hoping that Aubameyang was the last Arsenal captain to have toyed this line.

Written By: Anirudh Madedhi


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *