Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has dismissed “false rumours” that he left the Gabon squad due to indiscipline ahead of his expected return to Arsenal.
The 32-year-old is set to travel back to Arsenal for medical examinations after he was diagnosed with heart lesions following a positive test for Covid-19, but has returned to training since and felt healthy.
Arsenal are still waiting for confirmation from the Gabon Football Federation and Sky Sports News has contacted the Premier League club for comment and clarity on the issue.
Aubameyang has tweeted: “We have some problems that are hard to resolve by themselves, then rumours get thrown into the mix.
“We have to look after our health first and foremost. I’m not going to talk about the false rumours and I truly hope our team goes as far as possible.”
The Gunners said last week they had been in touch with Aubameyang and are confident his condition is not serious.
Aubameyang did not feature in either of Gabon’s first two group games at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The forward tested positive for coronavirus on his arrival in Cameroon for the tournament, but he returned a negative test last week before training on Thursday.
Aubameyang, along with team-mates Mario Lemina and Axel Meye, was shown to have “cardiac lesions” following bouts of Covid-19.
Gabon manager Patrice Neveu has said: “As you know, he’s a key player for Arsenal, although he’s going through a tough period at the moment.
“We still have to report to clubs. And when a player’s health is affected and as you know, they are paid by the club, we have to be reasonable at some point.”
Nice midfielder Lemina also responded to the reports by posting a statement on Instagram, which read: “I’m not even going to feed the lies that are trying to cause harm. I couldn’t care less.
“I feel pain for my national team which is surrounded by liars who are looking for a buzz.
“Good luck for the rest of the competition and future call-ups.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Gabon’s final group game is against Morocco on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 7pm.
Gabon are second in the Group C table and require a point against table-toppers Morocco to qualify for the last 16. They beat Comoros Islands 1-0 in their group opener last Monday, before snatching a late equaliser against Ghana in their second game. That match ended in a brawl at full-time as tensions spilled over.
Aubameyang has been heavily linked with a move away from Arsenal after being stripped of the club captaincy in December following a disciplinary breach.
He last played for the Gunners on December 6 during a five-minute appearance as a substitute in their 2-1 defeat against Everton, after being dropped to the bench by Mikel Arteta at Goodison Park.
African football expert Janine Anthony told Sky Sports News: “He has been frozen out of Arsenal, so this was an opportunity for him to get the world talking about him more positively, and he’s missed out on that for unfortunate circumstances.”
Remaining AFCON 2021 group-stage fixtures
Tuesday January 18
Group B: Malawi vs Senegal, 4pm (Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam) – Live on Sky Sports Football
Group B: Zimbabwe vs Guinea, 4pm (Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde) – Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Group C: Gabon vs Morocco, 7pm (Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde) – Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Group C: Ghana vs Comoros, 7pm (Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua) – Live on Sky Sports Mix
Wednesday January 19
Group D: Egypt vs Sudan, 7pm (Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde) – Live on Sky Sports Mix
Group D: Guinea-Bissau vs Nigeria, 7pm (Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua) – Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Sky Sports to show AFCON live
The Africa Cup of Nations tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in January and February.
The tournament, originally scheduled to be played in June and July 2021, will be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports showing all 52 games live.