Arsenal legend Charlie Nicholas has urged the Gunners to give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang “what he wants” in terms of salary, in conversation with Sporting Life.
The Sky Sports pundit suggested that funds could be raised by selling Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, along with players he deemed “dead wood”.
The Gabon international is arguably Arsenal’s most important player, having scored 20 goals in all competitions this season and taking over the team captaincy.
However, Aubameyang’s current contract at the Emirates Stadium expires at the end of the 2020-21 season and talks over a new deal have failed to yield a breakthrough.
If no breakthrough is found by the summer, Arsenal will have to decide whether to cash in on the 30-year-old before the 2020-21 season, risk losing him for less money in January, or let him leave for nothing the following summer.
Nicholas is adamant that Arsenal should pull out all the stops to keep him on board, including selling out-of-favour players to raise funds and trim down the wage bill.
“My preference would be to offer Aubameyang what he wants,” he told Sporting Life. “Everyone will flag up his wages.
“I have been told differing scenarios, especially with Mesut Ozil. Is it possible Ozil could move on? Could this then help fund wages for Aubameyang and others? If they get him off the wage bill without getting anything for him, it will not be too bad.
“You can get rid of Shkodran Mustafi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has been out on loan. This will all help to filter through, so there are easy things to do. Give him what he wants, get rid of dead wood, you have the kids, and it would not cost £200m to challenge for the top four once more.”
From a financial perspective, what Nicholas is saying is accurate – aside from the funds raised from sales, the three players flagged up make a combined £620,000-a-week (according to Spotrac: Ozil – £350,000-a-week; Mustafi – £90,000-a-week; Mkhitaryan: £180,000-a-week).
However, this doesn’t factor in whether Aubameyang wants to stay at Arsenal; while Nicholas doesn’t think the sharpshooter wants to leave, you have to bear in mind that he probably has one big contract left in him, and as such, is running out of time to compete in the Champions League – a competition the Gunners seem unlikely to feature in next season.