Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did something Alexis could not

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 06: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 6, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 06: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 6, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was definitely in a similar position to Alexis Sanchez, yet Arsenal snagged him anyway. But there’s a clear reason why.

There were certainly plenty of correlations between the situation that Alexis Sanchez was in at Arsenal and the situation Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was in at Borussia Dortmund. Both had outlived their days with the club and were desperate to leave.

However, both had become such a mainstay at their respective clubs, and such a crucial piece of their goal-scoring success, that their club couldn’t just let them go for nothing.

There were concerns that maybe Aubameyang was just another Alexis, dedicated to himself and not the club. Maybe he would become just as big of a liability down the road as Alexis became.

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But there is a key difference in how the two handled themselves in their final half-year at the club. Alexis Sanchez’s demeanor on the pitch was abysmal. He was a mopey thing, with no desire to be there. When, on those rare occasions, he scored, he celebrated, but his heart was nowhere near that pitch.

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He finished with eight goals and three assists in 1500 minutes of play, with dispossession numbers out of this universe. It was not the Alexis that we had originally signed.

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Aubameyang had his problems off the pitch that translated into a few team-invoked suspensions on the pitch, but when he stepped onto the pitch, there was no doubting him fulfilling obligation to the club. Even if his head wasn’t always in the game, he still managed 21 goals and three assists, despite wanting out of the club at the earliest possible opportunity.

There is a difference there. There is a level of mental acuity that shows that, while he may have been disassociating himself from the club, he was still either talented enough or dedicated enough – probably both – to do what he had always done – score goals.

Alexis Sanchez did not have that same capability. He was a shadow of the Alexis he had once been and it was a pain in the arse to have to see.

Arsene Wenger said that Alexis always gave 100% to the end, and I’m sure he did, he’s a workhorse. But giving 100% physically does not mean he gave 100% mentally and I’d argue that he most certainly didn’t.

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So while the situations were quite similar, Aubameyang made it clear that he was different. Even when faced with an impending exit, he still did his job just as well as he always had before.