Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Arsenal form has plummeted since signing a lucrative new deal last summer, but Mikel Arteta says he is not “suspicious” of the situation.
The Gabonese striker appeared to be leaving north London last summer with his contract with the Gunners broken. Barcelona were linked with the 31-year-old after Aubameyang scored 29 goals. The forward, however, decided to extend his time and vowed to become an ‘Arsenal legend’ after signing a three-year contract worth around £ 55million.
Aubameyang saw his salary rise from £ 250,000 per week to closer to £ 350,000 per week once loyalty payments and bonuses are factored in. This made him one of the highest paid players in England behind Man Utd goalkeeper David De Gea and Arsenal old man Mesut Ozil.
However, the forward has not been at his best this season and his form has been well below par. He has only 13 goals under his belt in all competitions. And was excluded from Arsenal’s starting XI for the North London derby last month after showing up late for the game.
Arteta has, however, defended the ex-Borussia Dortmund man and says he has to get on fire if Arsenal are to end the season on a high.
“That hasn’t been the case in recent years and it’s a factor that is contributed by a lot of things the team has to do on the pitch. It’s not just his thing, ”Arteta said at his press conference.
“But obviously we need Aubameyang in a different form in the next few games to give us our best chance of finishing where we want to end the season, that’s clear.”
When asked if he thought the ‘deposit’ was a conscious effort after securing a mega new contract, Arteta added, “No, it’s easy to tie things together when they relate like that, but I am not suspicious of it.
“I saw, and we had many conversations, what he wanted to do from last year’s perspective to his near future over the next couple of years, and he was very ambitious with that.
“Maintaining this level is really complicated but he’s doing his best, he’s doing his best. This is what he aims to do. “
Meanwhile, a report of Football insider claim that some figures at the club believe Aubameyang is past his prime and that they may have made a mistake.
With funds set to be tight if the Gunners miss European football for next season, Aubameyang is now seen as someone who can be sold. But they will have to be paid the right price.
Aubameyang will be 32 in June and his market value will start to decline over time. However, given that he is still under contract until 2023, Arsenal could still get a decent fee for him this summer.
Therefore, if any of the clubs that tried to reward him last year retain an interest, Arsenal will consider entering into negotiations. But the report warns that it can be difficult to find a club willing to invest so much in the forward.
READ MORE: Arteta explains why he is ‘happy’ that resurrected Arsenal man is in a hurry to leave