LONDON: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy following a breach of discipline as manager Mikel Arteta outlined on Tuesday his desire for a culture change at the club.
The 32-year-old forward was left out for Saturday’s 3-0 win over Southampton and will also not feature for West Ham’s visit to the Emirates on Wednesday.
“Following his latest disciplinary breach last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will no longer be our club captain, and will not be considered for selection for Wednesday’s match against West Ham United,” Arsenal said in a statement.
“We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed.”
According to The Athletic website, Aubameyang returned later than agreed from a personal trip to France last week, which subsequently forced him to miss training due to the need to pass coronavirus protocols.
Aubameyang was also left out by Arteta for a victory over north London rivals Tottenham in March over a disciplinary issue when he arrived late for a pre-match meeting.
“It is a really a clear statement from the club. It is the decision we have made with the last incident we had with the player and this is where we stand,” Arteta said at a pre-match press conference.
“We had to make the decision, it is the right one to defend the interest of the football club.”
Aubameyang was named Arsenal skipper in 2019 after Granit Xhaka was also stripped of the role for his tirade towards supporters after being substituted in a Premier League match against Crystal Palace.
The Gabon attacker initially revelled in the role, leading Arsenal to their only trophy under Arteta by scoring twice in the semi-final and final of the FA Cup in 2020.
However, Aubameyang’s form has dipped since signing a three-year deal that made him one of the highest earners in the Premier League worth a reported 18 million ($24 million) a year.
He scored just 10 Premier League goals as Arsenal finished eighth last season and has four in 14 league appearances this campaign.
“It is a really unpleasant situation,” Arteta said.
“The players accepted the decision, they know because they have committed to it.
“We want to take our culture and how we want to represent the football club to a different level.”
Arteta said he has not taken a quick decision on who will take the armband from Aubameyang.
Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Kieran Tierney, Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale have all been tipped as potential captains.
Arsenal failed to qualify for European football for the first time in 25 years last season.
The Gunners are aiming to end a five-year absence from the Champions League this season and can move into the Premier League’s top four with victory over West Ham.
Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2021