Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left out of Mikel Arteta’s squad for Arsenal’s Premier League game against Norwich on Boxing Day.
The Gabon international hasn’t played since the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat against Everton on December 6 and was recently stripped of the captaincy for “displinary reasons”.
It’s believed Aubameyang didn’t return to the club in the time-frame expected after visiting his ill mother in France.
And, with the Africa Cup of Nations just around the corner, he may not play for Arsenal again until February. There are also rumours linking the striker with Barcelona and Juventus.
Manager Arteta’s decision comes just two days after Aubameyang posted a picture of his family on Instagram, his first public message since being dropped.
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The post was captioned “Merry Christmas #FamilyFirst”.
“Merry Christmas skipper, to you and your family,” replied Arsenal fan and broadcaster Piers Morgan, who was critical of Arteta’s decision to strip Aubameyang of the captaincy.
When asked about his decision to drop the player, Arteta replied: “I don’t establish my authority by being dictatorial or being ruthless.
“I just ask for 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.
“I am not going to ask anybody to put the ball into the top corner every time they hit it, but I will ask them to do the right things every single day for this club. That is for sure.”
Although Aubameyang was left out of Arsenal’s 20-man squad for the Norwich game, teenager Charlie Patino was included on the bench.
The midfielder, 18, scored on his Gunners senior debut against Sunderland in the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening.
“The best day of my life and an early Christmas present,” wrote Patino on Instagram. “Thanks to all the fans for their amazing support, what a night.”
Discussing the talent in October, Arsenal icon Jack Wilshere said: “I know him. I’ve seen him play and he’s a good player.
“He’s obviously really young still and got a lot of developing to do but he’s definitely one who everyone at the training ground is talking about.
“The first-team players know who he is and he is a good player and one for the future for sure… there are things he needs to work on but he is going to make a name for himself.”