PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG could be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after he was axed for disciplinary reasons for the second time this year.
Fuming boss Mikel Arteta left Aubameyang out of his matchday squad completely after deciding his £250,000-a-week captain had again let him down by returning back late from an overseas trip.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after a ‘disciplinary issue’Credit: Rex
The 31-year-old was dropped for the North London derby against Tottenham in March over persistent time-keeping problems having been caught up in traffic on the way to the game.
But this latest incident, which is thought to also have involved falling foul of new Covid-19 travel testing requirements, appears to being taken far more seriously.
Arteta refused to go into any further detail after Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Southampton, but also pointedly pulled back from answering whether he will remain as club captain.
And the disciplinary process is still ongoing, which could see the club’s biggest star hit with a heavy fine and further action like ending his time as captain.
The Spanish boss said: “It was a disciplinary breach and that’s why he was out of the squad.
“I think we have been very consistent that we have certain non-negotiables in the team that we have set ourselves as a club.
“Let’s talk about the game guys. I try to explain to you what it was and I did it frankly, and I am not going to say anything else.
“I am going to focus on the performance and what the team did on the pitch.
“You are not going to get anything else out of me that happened in the dressing room.”
Arteta added: “It starts today. But certainly it’s not an easy situation, a situation that we want to have our club captain in.”
The Gabon star is understood to have been given permission to travel abroad earlier this week because of a family issue, but then reported back late from that.
It starts today. But certainly it’s not an easy situation, a situation that we want to have our club captain in.
Mikel Arteta on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
New UK rules mean travellers need to self-isolate on their return until they get the result of a PCR coronavirus test, which is also thought to have caused a problem.
Aubameyang still has 18 months left to run on his Arsenal contract but this is just the latest episode in what appears to be a stormy relationship with his manager.
Arteta has been resolute in his position that he has total control on first team matters, and places huge importance in all his players maintaining discipline.
Such a stance has already seen him decide Matteo Guendouzi did not have a future at the Emirates after a series of problems, and now the same fate could befall Aubameyang.
But the biggest problem is whether Arsenal would find anyone willing to pay a fee for the player if they decided to offload him, let alone come up with a package to match his current deal.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta did not rule out stripping Aubameyang of the captaincyCredit: AP