Mikel Arteta hints Arsenal players weren’t happy with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

February 10, 2022
Mikel Arteta has attempted to instill discipline in his squad since taking over from Unai Emery
Mikel Arteta has attempted to instill discipline in his squad since taking over from Unai Emery

Mikel Arteta has dropped his biggest hint yet over the driving reasons behind the breakdown in his relationship with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The former Arsenal skipper’s acrimonious departure was sealed on deadline day after he joined Barcelona by mutual consent, having been frozen out following a series of disciplinary breeches.

Arriving back late from a trip abroad to tend to his sick mother was reported to be the final straw, but ahead of Thursday night’s game against Wolves, Arteta intimated that the 32-year-old’s lack of consistent effort on the training pitch had been noted by members of the first team squad.

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Asked if he could have taken a more sympathetic approach with Aubameyang given his star status, Arteta replied: ‘I don’t think I am too hard on that to be fair. I don’t know the perception externally. There are some minimums and a line you cannot cross.

‘If someone is going to cross it because they scored 25 or 30 goals that dressing room has to accept it. First of all you have to score 25 or 30 goals.

‘Maybe they said ‘listen guys don’t train, you train once a week and you play’. They will decide. If they are happy with that and with me there is no problem.

‘If they are happy and can live with that, everyone is happy. You have to do it though, hey?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his Barcelona debut against Atletico Madrid last weekend

When it was suggested he felt the squad weren’t willing to accept a lack of application from a senior player, Arteta added: ‘I don’t work with impressions I work with facts. I like to see, I want to smell and sense where this is going and if possible anticipate issues.’

Arteta had previously claimed he saw himself as the ‘solution’ rather than the ‘problem’ in the breakdown in the dynamic between manager and main goalscorer, but insisted the striker who scored 92 goals in four years should be remembered fondly.

He said: ‘From my side, and I think from everyone here, I think you’ve seen a few messages towards him, I think it is gratitude.

‘We wish him the best and we move on without any regrets because I prefer to look at all the beautiful things and good times that we had.

‘It’s important to learn and look back at what you could have done better, especially from my side.

‘I think (the squad has been) very understanding, they knew what was happening and it’s a good solution for everyone.’