Arsenal will consider suitable offers for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with a January exit not ruled out for the striker.
Aubameyang, who has joined up with Gabon ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, has been sidelined since being stripped of the captaincy last month after a disciplinary issue.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has not selected him in the squad for their last six games.
Since then, Arsenal have won five and lost one of those matches – Saturday’s contentious 2-1 defeat to champions Manchester City at the Emirates – scoring 20 goals in that time.
Aubameyang, who is Arsenal’s highest earner, has 18 months left on a contract that pays £350,000 per week.
He had some interest from Juventus but will not be joining them due to his commitments with Gabon at AFCON and their desire to keep Alvaro Morata, according to Sky in Italy.
Arsenal have money to spend on a new centre-forward this month, with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah’s contracts expiring at the end of the season.
Dusan Vlahovic is not interested in a move to the Gunners, according to Sky in Italy, despite widespread reports of Arsenal interest.
‘Offer would be considered – but who can afford it?’
Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth on The Transfer Show:
January departure for Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not ruled out. Offers will be considered. Since he’s been stripped of captaincy and left out, Arsenal have won 5 out of 6 games and scored 20 goals. #AFC #Aubameyang #TransferWindow #SSN
— Dharmesh Sheth (@skysports_sheth) January 4, 2022
“He’s currently with Gabon at the AFCON, preparing for the tournament. If you look at the timetable in the past month or so, he was stripped of the captaincy in mid-December and has not featured in an Arsenal squad since then.
“I’m told if an offer comes in, it would be considered. That’s one part of it, but when you’re talking about a deal for him, who could do such a deal?
“He’s got 18 months left on his contract, and it’s worth £350,000 a week. If there’s a deal to be done, what kind of deal would it be? Would it be a loan, would Arsenal pay some of the wages? If it’s a transfer, who would be able to pay that plus wages?
“It’s very early stages in the window with regards to his future, but I wonder whether Mikel Arteta, if he had any doubts whether Arsenal could cope without him, the last six games have shown him they can.
“Five wins, the only defeat to Man City. They’ve scored 20 goals in that time, too.”
Analysis: Why Auba’s days look numbered
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:
Arteta’s decision to drop Aubameyang could easily have backfired on him but instead, the manager has been emphatically vindicated. Arsenal have won five games out of six without their captain, scoring 20 goals in the process. They look transformed.
Alexandre Lacazette’s superior link-up play has allowed Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to flourish and while the Frenchman may not be a long-term solution up front, he has perhaps shown a blueprint to follow.
Aubameyang was irrepressible in the 2019/20 season, of course, leading Arsenal to FA Cup glory over Chelsea and scoring 29 goals in the competition, but his output has fallen alarmingly since signing a new contract that summer.
In fact, his scoring rate has dropped every year since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018. This season, he is averaging only 0.35 goals per minutes in the Premier League – down from 0.85 per 90 minutes in his first season.
Arsenal have lacked creativity in recent years, but Aubameyang has averaged roughly three shots per 90 minutes this season, which is in fact more than in 2019/20. The problem is that he is not taking nearly as many chances. His shot conversion rate has dropped to just 11.4 per cent this season.
The numbers help to explain why Arsenal appear ready to move forward without him. At 32, and without the goalscoring potency that once separated him from the rest, Aubameyang is no longer giving Arteta what he needs.
What are the papers saying about Auba’s future?
Arsenal are touting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang around Europe’s leading clubs but fear having to sell him at a much lower value and his £350,000 weekly wage might prove a barrier to any deal (Daily Mail, January 4).
Newcastle want to sign Aubameyang on loan in January with a view to a £20m summer transfer (Daily Star, January 2).
Newcastle are reportedly ‘in the mix’ for Aubameyang though the frozen-out Arsenal forward is believed to be eyeing up a different destination (Daily Star, December 28).
Arsenal want to use next month’s Africa Cup of Nations as a period to reset relations with Aubameyang (The Sun, December 22).
Barcelona have been alerted by Aubameyang’s exile at Arsenal and would be interested in signing him on loan next month (Daily Mail, December 21).
Barcelona’s hopes of signing Aubameyang could depend on him keeping a promise he made to his grandfather that he would one day play for their fierce rivals Real Madrid (The Sun, December 17).
Maitland-Niles close to finalising Roma loan deal
Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles is close to finalising a loan move to Roma, with the 24-year-old potentially travelling to the Italian capital as early as Wednesday.
Maitland-Niles’ personal terms are not expected to be a problem for the Serie A side but any deal would not include an option to buy.
The Arsenal academy graduate, whose contract expires in the summer of 2023, has started just two Premier League games this season but will hope he can kickstart his career under former Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho in Italy.
Arsenal to consider offers for Mari and Chambers
Arsenal will also consider offers for defenders Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers in this January transfer window.
The pair, who have not featured in the Premier League since August, have found playing time limited this season and do not appear to be part of Arteta’s long-term plans.
Arsenal signed Mari permanently from Flamengo for £8m in August 2020 after taking up an option to buy following his £4m loan move in January 2020.
The Spaniard was Arteta’s first signing and has two-and-a-half years left on his contract.
Meanwhile, Chambers could be set to end his eight-year spell at the club as he enters the last six months of his deal.
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