Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang breaks silence amid Arsenal exile with telling Christmas comment
The Arsenal striker has had the captaincy taken off him as well as being dropped from the side and banished from first-team training by Mikel Arteta following internal disciplinary action earlier this month
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future at Arsenal remains in doubt after being banished from the first-team squad by Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners head coach has refused to give any guarantees over Aubameyang's future after the player's latest “disciplinary breach”.
The 32-year-old was dropped for the win over Southampton early in the month and has not featured since - at a time when the club have moved into the top four in the Premier League and claimed a Carabao Cup semi-final spot.
While Arteta has been quizzed on Aubameyang's absence, the striker has remained silent - although his agent did take aim at Arteta on December 14.
But the exiled former Arsenal captain posted a snap of he and members of his family on Christmas Eve on Instagram, succinctly captioned "Merry Christmas #Familyfirst".
It is his first Instagram post since December 3 and since falling foul of his Arsenal manager with his trip to France to see his ill mother and bring her back to the UK.
That trip was agreed upon with the club, but it's understood Aubameyang failed to return in the time-frame expected and laid out.
Certainly, that hashtag posted alongside the initial comment, appears telling, at a time when Arteta has made clear his belief that Aubameyang has fallen below the standards he demands in North London.
It remains to be seen whether Aubameyang will have a future at the Emirates, with previous stars such as Matteo Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil both having fallen out with Arteta and finding no way back.
The Gabonese forward, the club's highest-paid player, has been linked with potential January moves to both Barcelona and Juventus.
Arteta hit out during a press conference this week when quizzed on Aubameyang’s punishment, amid criticism in some sections for banishing the ex-Borussia Dortmund hitman from first-team training.
But it is not the first time Aubameyang has been punished in public after the 32-year-old was also dropped in March for the visit of Tottenham due to another disciplinary breach.
And Arteta pointed out his belief that he is far from a dictator when it comes to discipline, insisting: “I don’t establish my authority by being dictatorial or being ruthless.
“I just ask for respect and commitment. At this level, if I don’t get that I pack my bags and go somewhere else because that is the minimum I can ask for.
“I am sorry but I am going to expect that from everybody who works for the club. First of all myself, and the day I don’t do that I walk through that door and go and do something else. It is as clear as that.
“To be successful you have to be passionate about something and you want to represent a club of this size with its history, that is the minimum standard you have to bring.
“I am not going to ask anybody to put the ball into the top corner every time they hit it, but I will ask them to do the right things every single day for this club. That is for sure.”
Boss Arteta has striking issues, with Aubameyang’s situation and the contract issues surrounding fellow strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.
Both are out of contract next summer and free to talk to overseas clubs in January over potential free transfers.
Arteta conceded: “We have a cloud and the cloud is there. At the moment we’re not able to change it.
“We’re working on it to try to make it as small as possible and as clear as possible but it’s the situation we are in because contracts have details, the timing of them is tricky and we are trying to resolve it.”
Defender Ben White admitted this week that Arsenal are missing their long-time talisman.
Asked whether they were missing the striker and his goals, White joked: “It hasn’t really looked it on the scoresheet. We’ve been playing well,”
But he added: “Obviously it’s disappointing for Auba but we’ve all got our heads down and we’re working hard.
“He’s a really nice guy, we all miss him, but it is what it is.”
He was also quick to eulogise over Arteta’s ability to manage his players as individuals, admitting: ‘I’ve had a few managers and I’d say his man-management is the best I’ve been under.
“Every player is different and needs different things, and he definitely understands that. He’s a top manager and it’s showing.”