When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed his three-year contract extension at the Emirates Stadium back in September, the announcement was met with jubilation from the vast majority of Arsenal supporters.
After all, he had pretty much single-handedly just led the Gunners to their record 14th FA Cup after a disappointing Premier League campaign. The Gabonese forward scored twice in both the semi-final vs Manchester City and the final vs Chelsea, glossing over what had been a poor season in which Unai Emery lost his job. But Aubameyang reminded everybody of his importance.
At the time of the contract announcement, he vowed to go on and become an Arsenal legend. Yet six months on, Aubameyang's performances haven't been good enough and the club should perhaps consider cashing in on the striker.
Regardless of what the outlook is on Aubameyang's future now, the Gunners were right to extend his contract at the time because he was without question Arsenal's best player, and to have lost him for free 12 months later would have been a disaster.
Despite his drop off in form and the disciplinary issues that Mikel Arteta has had no choice but to deal with, the decision to tie him down to a contract was the correct one.
Aubameyang will be 32-years-old by the time the 2021/22 campaign starts and so if the plan is to sell him before the end of his current contract, it feels as though it is now or never. The captain's output this season hasn't been as impressive, but he's still managed 14 goals in 30 appearances.
However, goal-scoring record aside, there are numerous other factors that suggest moving the player on would be the right thing for the club.
The aforementioned disciplinary issues are one of the biggest concerns. Aubameyang has been involved in three incidents this season and him turning up late to arguably Arsenal's biggest game of the season was the final straw for Arteta who was right to drop him.
While the manager insisted a line had been drawn under the incident even prior to kick-off, his captain refused to take part in the warm-down and sped off from the stadium just 23 minutes after the full-time whistle.
The tactical evolution of the side since Christmas has seen the teams performances improve, even if at times the results haven't always supported that. Arteta's desire to see his side press from the front is clear but in order for it to be successful, it must be done in unison and Aubameyang doesn't contribute anywhere near enough in that sense.
When Aubameyang was scoring goals for fun, playing with a smile on his face and not breaching club protocols, the fanbase may have been more tolerant. He could be seen exchanging strong words with some of his teammates during Thursday night's disappointing display and you wonder whether his failure to turn up on time at the weekend has caused friction in the dressing room.
Aubameyang missed a host of good opportunities to score for the Gunners and kill off the tie vs Olympiacos, but the wider concern will be that it wasn't for the first time this season. The fact that the alternatives available to Arteta, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, haven't shown themselves to be any more prolific puts the boss in a difficult position with regards to his captain.
However, with each passing week, it is becoming clearer that the former Borussia Dortmund man doesn't represent the long-term future of Arsenal.
Source : 90min