Mikel Arteta revealed prior to Arsenal’s Premier League game with Southampton that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been left out of the squad because of a disciplinary breach.
The Gunners’ captain has just four Premier League goals to his name during 2021/22 and his overall performances have not been up to the high standards he’s previously set.
He was dropped from the starting lineup for Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Everton last Monday, and previously had been hauled off against Manchester United despite Arteta’s side needing a goal to draw the scores level.
For the game against Southampton, Aubameyang was not involved at all – and Arteta confirmed prior to kick-off that he had been omitted from the squad because of a breach of discipline, not because of his poor form or an injury.
“Unfortunately, (Aubameyang has been left out) due to a disciplinary breach,” Arteta said when asked about Aubameyang’s absence. “I think we’ve been very consistent with no negotiables as a team that we have set ourselves as a club, so he’s not involved today.
“Certainly, it’s not an easy situation, a situation that we want our club captain to be in.”
The Athletic have subsequently revealed that Aubameyang was omitted for returning late from a trip abroad, having been given permission to attend a personal matter. However, he came back later than had been agreed, and this had implications for Arsenal’s Covid-19 protocols.
His absence will likely fuel rumours that he’s fallen out with Arteta, with recent speculation already suggesting there is a rift between the two.
The Spaniard has denied any such problem, and instead said after the defeat against Manchester United: “I can guarantee you that there is not a rift with Auba.
“I have to respect the opinion of these people but I can tell you that I have the relationship I want with him. When I make decisions with 15, 20 minutes left or in the starting line-up, it is done with only one intention, to get the best out of the team.”
Aubameyang’s future may be called into question when the January transfer window opens, but any interested parties will know that he signed a bumper new contract at Arsenal only last year.
He’s tied to the Emirates Stadium until the summer of 2024 and pockets around £350,000-per-week in wages – making him one of the highest paid players in the Premier League.