Arsenal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The breakup that’s needed

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on May 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on May 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) /

Arsenal found tremendous value in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but as he isn’t even fully utilized, it’s time to sell him and build something new.

As the Summer transfer period begins, there is a series of decisions Raul Sanellehi, Unai Emery, Edu and the rest of the Arsenal organization need to make to ensure that they can compete for a top 4 place in the Premier League.

Irresponsible signings over the course of the last decade have put the Gunners in significantly worse shape than their top six counterparts. While clubs like Tottenham and Liverpool made investments in players like Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen, Mohamad Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, Arsenal rolled the dice on players like Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka.

Players like Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Philipe Coutinho rose up their respective ranks and were shipped off to Spain with outrageous price tags that greatly benefited the transfer budget of Liverpool and Spurs. Meanwhile, Arsenal sold off players like Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie to our competitors for cut-rate prices due to injury concerns.

The club stalled on wage negotiations too long and wound up having to allow Alexis Sanchez to leave for a player (Mhkitaryan) worth half of him, but demanding almost the same immense wages.

Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka and Alex Iwobi all got their hefty long term deals, none of which were deserved. And oh right, Aaron Ramsey, who was arguably Arsenal’s only consistent player when healthy and the proud product of 11 years at the club, will be allowed to leave this summer on a free transfer.

Related Story. 10 Things Learned About Unai Emery In Year One. light

These decisions have all steered Arsenal towards the current situation they find themselves trapped in. They sat in 5th place at the end of the season, ahead of just Manchester United from the top six (the same Manchester United that have over five times what Arsenal have to spend on transfers) and regularly drop points against lesser opposition. Their defense remains extremely vulnerable, their highest paid player struggles to consistently stay in the lineup, they do not have a true winger in their ranks, and apparently they have just £40 million to fix it all.

Many of the flaws in the squad have been prolonged due to the lopsided investment at the striker position. Despite breaking the club transfer record for Alexandre Lacazette in the summer of 2017, Arsene Wenger broke that same record again just months later for Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.

The money that could have been spent on a true winger or patching up the gaping hole in the back was instead invested in a position that was already going to be a strength in the long run, but the club could not fathom the fact that just maybe Lacazette simply needed time to adjust to the pace and intensity of English soccer.

Despite Lacazette and Aubameyang being the stars of the club and best friends on and off the pitch, the only way Arsenal can further the growth of the squad as a whole is to sell one and invest that money elsewhere. It is only by doing this that the Gunners will have a reasonable chance at reaching the coveted Champions League.

It can be hard to wrap your head around. The idea of selling one of the two best players in a team trending downward is a daunting thought but would better the Gunners in the long run. Since the two joined the squad, they have quite often not played together and, when they do, Aubameyang has been forced onto the wing where he is less comfortable.

Emery prefers a 4-2-3-1 system and although he adapted over the course of the season to a 3-5-2 to accompany the pair, there was still a fair amount of talent sitting on the bench over the course of the 2018-2019 season. The team has has struggled to find a true identity which has led to the constant rotation of players such as Lacazette and Aubameyang and an inability for the two to establish themselves as a consistent (keyword) striker pairing.

The 4-2-3-1 that Emery aims to play clearly does not have room for both to play in their natural, No. 9 positions so Aubameyang was often pushed to the wing when that formation was deployed.

Although he continued to grab goals as he always does, he was uninvolved in buildup the vast majority of the time and prefers floating into space off the ball rather than getting on it and pushing up the field or attacking defenders like true wingers do.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

As rumors emerge that Manchester United ready up a £70 million bid for the Gabonese hitman, many Gunners will state their extreme distaste with the rumor considering Aubameyang grabbed the golden boot and United is, well, United. Selling one of our best players to an archrival is often an unpopular decision but for a fee of £70 million, this deserves some serious breaking down.

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is a very good player. He has a knack for finding the net that very few possess. His blistering pace and tremendous attacking positioning constantly see him beat defenders to low crosses and though-balls.

But other than that, he provides very little. He can turn into a ghost when Arsenal are not counter attacking into space. His dribbling and passing are not particularly strong, and most controversial of all, his technique is very average. This sounds outrageous to many, since Aubameyang notched 32 goals in all competitions last season and although he still can finish incredibly at times, anyone who watched all our games last year will acknowledge that he could have added many more goals to that tally. Which is surprising considering the only thing he really does is score goals.

His lack of superb technique is further evidenced in his penalties which are woeful to say the least. And now, Manchester United come knocking. They offer £70 million for a 30-year old who has less of an impact than many give him credit for.

This deal is perfect for Arsenal in several ways.

First, they sell a player who is not being fully utilized playing out of position so that they can use those funds and build around the 4-2-3-1 formation that Emery has in mind.

Second, they would be selling for a fee that is generous to Aubameyang.

Lastly, they team they are ripping off is Manchester United. Manchester United will be spending £70 million to bring in an effective yet inconsistent striker who has roughly 2-3 more years of prime performance left.

In addition to this, Alex Lacazette, who is more reliable and two years younger, is perfectly suited to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 on his own. The funds derived from this sale can be spent elsewhere to seriously patch up the squad (please not £80 million for Zaha) and Arsenal can finally start building for the long term instead of focusing themselves around overpriced, aging, big names (looking at you, Ozil and Mhkyitaryan).

While their fiercest competitors boast massive transfer budgets to fix their notably weaker flaws, Arsenal need to make the tough decisions right now if they want any hope of seriously fighting for a top 4 spot in the 2019-2020 season.

Next. The Case For Selling Each Arsenal Player. dark

Selling a player whose talent is not being fully utilized is the only choice they have, especially when the fee from him alone can add three new starting-caliber players to the team. The hardest thing a club can do is sell a star player and fan favorite but when you have made countless costly decisions over the course of the last decade, such as Arsenal have, that is exactly what needs to be done.