Arsenal icon Paul Merson has claimed that his old side never should have handed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a new contract with the club.
The former Borussia Dortmund frontman was into the final two years of his contract with the club when he eventually penned a new deal last September, to the delight of fans at the time.
Aubameyang had just scored all four of the Gunners ‘ goals in the semi-finals and final of the FA Cup, helping them clinch famous victories over Manchester City and Chelsea to win Mikel Arteta his first trophy as a manager.
The veteran centre-forward was then awarded for his fine form, receiving a reported £350,000 per week deal before his form began to falter, scoring just ten Premier League goals throughout the 2020/21 campaign – by far his worst since joining the club.
Things have got from bad to worse for Aubameyang, with the club announcing on Tuesday that they had stripped him of the captaincy following a disciplinary breach.
Now, Merson has claimed that the 32-year-old never should have been given such a large contract, which will cost the club around £54.6million across all three years.
Writing in his column for The Daily Star, he said: “Arsenal have got what they deserved with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang because they never should have given him that contract.
“He’s on far too much money for his age, he hasn’t been the same player since he signed it, and he shouldn’t come back into the team now in my opinion.
“If anyone offers him £350,000-a-week elsewhere I’d drop him off there but Barcelona have got no money and I don’t see how they could afford even half of his wages.
“Arsenal for me are in this situation again because they let him run down his contract and then gave him a lorryload of money. It’s like Mesut Ozil all over again.
“Aubameyang is a great finisher with great pace. But he’s 32. They must have realised he wasn’t going to get any quicker…”
Merson also criticised the Gabon international’s leadership qualities, claiming that he has been ‘disrespectful’ with his reported punctuality problems.
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“I hope his sick mother is alright. And I know he had permission to go and see her. But if you’re told when to be back and you don’t turn up, that’s poor,” Merson said.
“That’s twice now he’s been axed for breaking the rules. That shouldn’t happen to a 20-year-old let alone the captain. It’s disrespectful.
“Ask Tony Adams or Thierry Henry how proud they were to captain Arsenal. It’s an honour. But it doesn’t seem to be for Aubameyang.
“He can’t come back into the team this weekend. No chance. They played too well without him. And if they can rid of him they should.”