Axed Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s agent has already been holding transfer talks with multiple clubs, while the Gunners have set their sights on a preferred replacement.
The Gabon international was officially stripped of the captaincy on Tuesday after a long list of disciplinary breaches, the latest involving a trip to France last week which he returned late from and subsequently missed training due to a mix-up over Covid protocols.
For Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta it was the final straw and they will now appoint a new skipper who takes the role a little more seriously.
Arteta refused to put a timeframe on when Aubameyang might return to the matchday squad, with the 32-year-old not selected against West Ham on Wednesday, and his future in north London looks increasingly precarious.
But according to football.london, Aubameyang has not been entirely content at the Emirates and his agent had already been investigating the possibility of a move away.
Prior to being stripped of the captaincy, the former Dortmund striker’s agent held meetings in Italy, Spain and most recently Paris to discuss possible transfers, and those talks are likely to ramp up following the latest incident.
Even if Arsenal let Aubameyang leave for free, though, not many clubs will be able to afford the forward, who is the highest-paid player at the club after signing a contract believed to be worth around £300,000-a-week.
For his part, the Gabon frontman is believed to be unhappy with the public manner in which this issue has been dealt with.
Arsenal had already been in the market for a new striker to compete with and eventually succeed Aubameyang and the need to bring in more firepower will only intensify now, particularly with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah likely to leave on free transfers.
Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has been injured for much of the season so far, is emerging as the club’s top target, though a number of players are being looked at.
Asked if Aubameyang could leave Arsenal in January, Arteta said yesterday: ‘Really, we have never discussed something like this, and when players are under difficulty – or the team is under difficulty – what we have to be is supportive.’