Mikel Arteta’s project at Arsenal is slowly coming together before his very eyes, but he risks undoing all of his hard work by letting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stay at the club.
The Gabonese forward has been frozen out of the Gunners side recently after he was stripped of captaincy last week due to a ‘disciplinary breach’.
It is unknown when, or whether, the former Borussia Dortmund star will be able to return to the first team or if he will be offloaded in January.
There was speculation surrounding Arteta’s willingness to rebuild bridges with his exiled captain recently, however, the Spaniard’s recent comments indicate that the situation is very raw for both parties.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s match against Norwich, Arteta denied claims he was a dictator at the Emirates Stadium, saying: “I don’t establish my authority by being dictatorial or being ruthless, I just ask for one thing: 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.”
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Even the suggestion of being a ruler raises plenty of questions about Arteta, even though he denies the suggestions. If these claims are made again, would a young, exciting player want to play under a manager being labelled a dictator?
For one of the very few times since taking over in the dugout, the doubters have remained silent about the former Everton midfielder as he has guided his side into the Champions League placings with some commanding victories.
However, one bad apple spoils the barrel. If Aubameyang stays at the club for the foreseeable future then his antics will only continue, considering this isn’t the first time the 32-year-old’s discipline has required action.
Previously, Arteta has taken a bold, strong approach with bad eggs amongst his squad, namely Mesut Ozil.
The German was frozen out of the Arsenal squad for months upon months, with suggestions it was due to a combination of reasons, and sold to Fenerbahce in January. At the time, it was a ground-breaking decision by Arteta.
Ozil was deemed a living legend at the Emirates by fans and adored for his creativity and passing, but the manager simply did not see it that way. He offered the German several chances to get back in the good books but Ozil didn’t take them.
Understandably, the pair’s relationship ended sourly. Ozil didn’t take kindly to how he was treated despite Arteta’s best efforts to rekindle some sort of friendship, and the midfielder and his agent have made it known that they were displeased.
However, Arteta set a precedent with Ozil and he must upkeep that standard of no-nonsense management with Aubameyang.
Arsenal have improved, with the helping hand of a large influx of transfer spending, markedly since Ozil left, both on the pitch and in regards to team spirit and mentality.
If those who aren’t completely sold on the project and are not willing to meet club standards, like Aubameyang, are still in the dressing room and amongst the squad then it may only take a bad run of results for things to turn sour for Arteta.