Arsenal have officially confirmed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s exit from the club with a statement on their official website and a video montage showing the Gabonese striker’s best moments leading the Gunners’ attack.
The striker and the club agreed to part ways by mutual consent, which means that Aubameyang’s contract was terminated by the club. Reports claim that it cost the Gunners £7 million to pay off Aubameyang, who later signed on the winter window transfer deadline day for Barcelona.
Arsenal’s statement on Aubameyang’s exit was a short one, and it reads: “We wish Auba all the best for the next chapter in his career and thank him for his contribution to the club.”
After Arsenal confirmed his exit, the former Gunners captain took to social media to send a heartfelt message to Arsenal fans. The striker said it hurt to leave “without a real goodbye”.
“To the Arsenal fans, thank you for making London home for myself and my family for the past four years,” his message began.
“We went through ups and downs together and your support meant everything to me. Having the chance to win trophies and the honour of being the captain of this club is something I will forever keep in my heart.
“I have always been 100 per cent focused and committed on doing everything I can for this club which is why leaving without a real goodbye hurts – but that is football.
“I’m sad I did not get the chance to help my teammates in the last few weeks, but I have nothing but respect for this club and truly wish all my guys and the fans all the best and many successful years in the future! Love, Auba.”
Aubameyang has begun training with his new teammates at Barcelona after completing his move to the Catalan side. Barcelona is yet to officially announce his signing, but it is reported to be a six-month deal with a salary in the range of £100,000-a-week, far less than the £350,000-a-week he left behind at Arsenal.
Aubameyang scored 92 goals in 163 games for the Gunners, won the FA Cup and the Community Shield in 2020. However, Sky Sports News journalist Kaveh Solhekol says Arteta is making a big risk letting Aubameyang go.
Solhekol wrote in his column: “This is a big risk by Mikel Arteta, because what happens if Aubameyang goes to Barcelona and scores a lot of goals?
“It just shows how much Arsenal are backing the judgement of their manager. Arteta is saying ‘I know he is our best goalscorer, he is the club captain, he is the highest earner at the club for disciplinary reasons l don’t want him at the club’. It’s a big, big call.
“I know he is leaving Arsenal under a bit of a cloud but there are also a lot of good memories. His ratio of goals to games is right up there with the great players.
“Arsenal supporters will say ‘we are weaker now than we were at the start of the window’. But in this instance, you have to back Mikel Arteta’s judgement – that is what the Arsenal owners are doing.”
The club, meanwhile, is preparing for the summer after a failed transfer window which saw 13 exits from the club’s various teams which included three from the first team.
Fans of the club have taken to social media to express great displeasure about the club’s handling of the transfer window, which has left the team severely depleted as they enter a crucial phase of their season.
However, fans will be happy about the reports that have come out of the club concerning fan favourite Bukayo Saka, who is primed to receive a new contract before the end of the season.
Saka’s current deal expires in the summer of 2024 and with many clubs interested in the winger, Arsenal have taken the initiative to keep him at the Emirates for longer.
Saka broke into the first team under Unai Emery playing at both left-back and on both flanks of the attack. He has gone on to make 114 appearances for the club. This season, he is one of their most influential attackers, having scored 6 goals and provided five assists in 26 games across all competitions for the Gunners.
Saka’s new contract will see a significant salary bump to reflect his importance to the side, and Arsenal’s head of football operations, Richard Garlick, will lead the talks that are likely to begin once the season ends in May.
Meanwhile, manager Mikel Arteta is also set to receive a new contract offer which is also touted to see his earnings increase significantly. His current deal expires at the end of next season but the Arsenal hierarchy want to offer him a two-year extension on that deal.
Club director Josh Kroenke has a strong relationship with Arteta and is reportedly pleased with how the Spaniard has navigated the club through the Covid-19 pandemic.