Although the deal has yet to be concluded, with a few hours left of the transfer window, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to sign on loan for Barcelona.
The former Arsenal captain hasn’t been part of the first-team set up for a number of weeks after falling out with manager, Mikel Arteta, and the Gabonese faced half a season on the sidelines if a deal couldn’t be done in this window.
It’s come very late in the day, but Aubameyang has landed at Barcelona airport with the expectation that negotiations will be completed by the deadline and he will be a Barca player for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign.
It’s a deal that former Arsenal star and now Sky Sports pundit, Paul Merson, believes is the right one.
“I’m not really surprised [that Aubameyang has flown to Barcelona before a deal is agreed] because sometimes he does what he wants to do,” Merson was quoted as saying on Sky Sports.
“He’s trying to push this through now. He’s got nothing to lose. if he doesn’t go, he’ll go back to Arsenal and pick up big wages for the next six months.
“It’s a shame Barcelona aren’t the team they used to be because then it would be a story.
“What’s gone on behind the scenes, it looks like Arsenal needed to get him out of the club – that’s the main thing.
“In terms of getting someone in, I’m not sure about that at the moment. I think it’s just getting him out of the dressing room. There’s a lot of youngsters that look up to him and I think they could have the wrong influence.”
Given that the core of Arteta’s squad is now much younger than before, Merson certainly has a point.
Albeit, the real reason for Aubameyang’s benching has never really been made clear.
Arteta, to his credit, has kept everything in house just as he did with Mesut Ozil.
The Spaniard clearly has high standards, and anyone who slips below them on a regular basis is out.
A manager having control of the dressing room is exactly how things should work, but is all too often not the case these days.