Arsenal made a “mistake” the day they signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, according to Gary Neville. The 30-year-old’s future is the subject of speculation because he is about to enter the final year of his contract at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal face a key decision in the summer whether to cash in while they still can or run the risk of losing Aubameyang on a free transfer next year.
Emirates Stadium chiefs would love to extend his deal but a lack of Champions League football could prove fatal to their hopes, while the coronavirus crisis has weakened their financial position.
Mikel Arteta’s hopes of restoring Arsenal to the top of English football would be wounded if they were to lose Aubameyang – either this summer or next.
The Gabonese hotshot, who earns £180,000-a-week, has been a smash hit, scoring 61 goals in 97 appearances since arriving on a three-and-a-half-year contract in January 2018.
“I think Arsenal are just in a position where the player’s going to call the shots.”
Neville added: “Arsenal find themselves in this position far too often.”
Aubameyang is the latest high-profile player to be allowed to enter the final year of a contract following the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez.
Whether the coronavirus crisis has affected his thinking about the future remains to be seen, although Arteta admitted before the public health pandemic ground Premier League football to a halt that it would be a challenge to keep the striker.
When asked in February if Arsenal can convince him to stay, Arteta said: “Hopefully, and not just the wins, but what we are trying to do, to ensure that he enjoys it every time he is on the pitch, to feel he is part of what we are trying to build here. I think he is in that mindset at the moment.
“I think it has been tough for him, a player like him has had a lot of disappointments over the last few years because he has big expectations, he wants to play for the biggest club, in the biggest tournament, and be up there with the best players in the world. We have to try to support him and try to give him everything as a club so that he feels fulfilled here. That is the challenge we have.
“He needs to feel fulfilled, when he does that, we show appreciation too. Unfortunately, we are not that good that we can allow players not to do that [just score and not work].”