Martin Keown fears it is more likely Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who he rates as someone on par with Thierry Henry, ‘is going to go than stay’ at Arsenal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been sensational for Arsenal ever since his club-record €63.75m switch from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
The 31-year-old has proven himself as an elite striker, scoring 70 goals in 109 appearances. He even struck twice to seal a memorable 2-1 win over Chelsea in last weekend’s FA Cup final. Therefore, the club will be in the Europa League again next season.
While Arsenal enjoy the spoils of the prolific Aubameyang’s latest feats, however, the striker’s expiring contract remains a lingering issue, and one of significant concern to Keown.
A decision will need to made shortly as Aubameyang’s deal expires in 2021. So in the event he doesn’t sign an extension, Arsenal could sell him this summer or allow him to walk free next year.
The contract saga is similar to what the Gunners experienced with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in 2018. The former left for Manchester United, while the latter bagged a sweet £350k-per-week deal to remain. However, he barely plays at all nowadays.
Keown told the Daily Mail: “Arsene Wenger was always careful with how he spent money but midway through his final season in charge he agreed to splash out £56 million (€62m/$73m) for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“The 31-year-old has not signed an extension and it is now important that Arsenal resolve his future one way or another this summer.
“They cannot allow another distracting contract saga to crop up, as we saw with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, but if Aubameyang does depart, then they will need to replace the goals they are losing.”
Aubameyang’s impressive form recently saw him surpass record goalscorer Thierry Henry as the fastest Arsenal player to score 50 Premier League in a 4-0 win over Norwich in July.
Premier League games to reach 50 goals:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (79)
Thierry Henry (83)
Ian Wright (87)
Alexis Sanchez (101)
Olivier Giroud (113)
Dennis Bergkamp (114) pic.twitter.com/6HLFOOzmNl
— AFTV (@AFTVMedia) July 2, 2020
So it’s not surprising Keown feels Aubameyang is comparable to his old teammate, who scored a stunning 228 goals in 375 games in north London.
The former Gunners defender added: “He guarantees you 20 a season at least — even when operating as an inside forward from the left wing.
“I’ve compared Aubameyang to Thierry Henry previously and as someone who shared a dressing room with Arsenal’s greatest ever goalscorer, I don’t do so lightly.
“Strikers can do special things in training but it’s about doing it in the big moments, too. Henry used to do that, and Aubameyang did it against Chelsea.
“Unfortunately, it feels more likely that he is going to go than stay. The clock is ticking on his career so the next contract and club choice is an important one.
“Arsenal won the FA Cup on Saturday because they had the best player on the pitch in Aubameyang. For how much longer they have him, time will tell.”