Sources: Arsenal open to Aubameyang offers


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Arsenal are willing to listen to offers for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January, sources have told ESPN.

The 32-year-old was stripped of the captaincy last week after a series of disciplinary issues and has been training away from his teammates.

Sources claim the situation is not beyond repair but the Gunners are ready to sound out interest from Europe’s top clubs to gauge whether a deal that suits all parties is possible.

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Barcelona were interested in Aubameyang prior to the striker signing a three-year contract worth at least £250,000-a-week in September last year.

The size of that contract is an issue for potential suitors now, although reports in Italy have suggested Juventus could be interested in taking Aubameyang on loan if an agreement can be reached over his wages. Inter Milan and AC Milan have also been mooted as possible destinations.

Chelsea were also monitoring Aubameyang last summer and although Blues manager Thomas Tuchel remains a fan of a player he worked with at Borussia Dortmund, there is no suggestion at this stage that the club are keen on a deal. In any case, Arsenal would find it difficult to negotiate with a London rival.

Aubameyang previously enjoyed a close relationship with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and sources claim the Spaniard has not entirely ruled out the possibility of bringing him back into the fold.

But several incidents have eroded his trust in Aubameyang, the latest of which saw him return late from a specially sanctioned overseas trip to visit his unwell mother in France.

Aubameyang was also dropped from the squad to face Tottenham in March just hours before kick-off after arriving late for a team meeting and sources have told ESPN that timekeeping has repeatedly been an issue, something Arteta feels undermines the more disciplined environment he is trying to create.

Despite rising COVID-19 cases, the Africa Cup of Nations is expected to begin as planned next month meaning Aubameyang will join up with Gabon for several weeks.

Sources claim this time apart offers a useful break for both Arsenal and Aubameyang to establish whether there is a way forward. However, that will also include exploring options to part ways if the club receives a suitable offer.

The issue is complicated further by uncertainty over Arsenal’s other leading forwards. Alexandre Lacazette is out of contract at the end of the season and is expected to depart on a free transfer as things stand.The 30-year-old is free to talk to overseas clubs directly from Jan. 1.

Eddie Nketiah, who scored a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 5-1 win over Sunderland in Tuesday’s EFL Cup quarterfinal, also has six months remaining on his existing deal.

The 22-year-old rejected Arsenal’s latest contract offer amid concerns over a lack of game time and the Gunners may seek to cash in next month rather than lose him for nothing. Crystal Palace were keen on Nketiah before a move collapsed late in the summer window.

Arteta would be reluctant to sanction the departure of all three forwards in the middle of the season. He has repeatedly praised Lacazette’s work ethic despite the uncertainty over his future, in sharp contrast to Aubameyang.

Asked on Wednesday at a news conference if Aubameyang would be considered for selection against Norwich on Boxing Day, Arteta replied: “We will go game by game and decide the squad as we get closer to the game.”

Pushed on whether Aubameyang needed to apologise, Arteta added: “I think we have shown in this club that everybody can make mistakes or can have different ways of thinking or acting. I’m completely open to that. It’s not about that.”

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