Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has claimed that losing a player like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is “the last thing” Arsenal want to do, although he noted how the Gunners have “failed abysmally” when it comes to players running down their contracts.
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.
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta is reportedly eager to either tie the 30-year-old down to a new deal or sell him in the summer instead of allowing his contract – and value – to run down.
While Nicholas is hoping the Gunners manage to hang on to Aubameyang, he noted how the Gunners have a poor track record when it comes to players and contracts, such as when they allowed Aaron Ramsey to leave on a free.
“This guy is a goal machine, his record tells you that,” Nicholas told Sky Sports. “The evidence says the last thing you want to do is lose a player like Aubameyang. He is a magical goalscorer.
“The only way his sale might be acceptable is if it funded a rebuild. Arsenal have been trying to rebuild for five years, maybe even more, and they have never come close to achieving that. They dropped out of the Champions League and have lost revenue.
“They do not want to lose Aubameyang in terms of what he brings to the table, but Arsenal have failed abysmally when it has come to players running down a contract. You only have to look back at Aaron Ramsey leaving the club last summer to know how bad they’ve been in this area.”
Arsenal’s troubles with finding themselves in difficult situations when it comes to players and expiring contracts are well documented – aside from the Ramsey case, there was also that of Alexis Sanchez, who left with six months remaining on his deal in 2018, and Mesut Ozil, who extended his stay in the same January window.
As well as Aubameyang, five other Arsenal players – Ozil, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz and Bukayo Saka – will enter the final year of their contracts in the summer, a risky situation as not only could they lose the players for lowly sums but also risk having to pay over the odds just to retain their services.
Aubameyang in particular is a very valuable asset and Arsenal need to really think hard about what to do with him – the money he could potentially earn the club could fund a squad rebuild, but likewise, retaining his services in the long term would not only be crucial in terms of goals but also a signal of intent from the club in terms of their aspirations.