Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang: Should they stay or should they go?
By Rob Worthington
Let me take you back to the 9th of May, 2019. Arsenal have just qualified for the Europa League final following a memorable display at the Mestalla against Valencia. On a night where many expected Arsenal to slip up, our two talismen took control. Alexandre Lacazette scored a superb goal in typical Laca fashion, whilst Pierre Emerick Aubameyang produced a mesmeric performance, netting his first hat-trick for the club. On the night, I genuinely believed that in these two players, we had the best two strikers in Europe. Moving on to 10 months later, the unthinkable has happened. It is being suggested that Arsenal should be looking to move the two on. Lacazette, 28, has hit a torrid run of form and has struggled to hit the heights of his 2018/19 season this term. Aubameyang, 30, is reportedly the subject of interest from Europe’s elite, especially from that of Barcelona, and is approaching the latter stages of his career. Simultaneously, both are reportedly unsure as to whether they want to sign new contracts. This leads me to believe that the pair could be doing more harm than good at Arsenal at the moment. As of late, Lacazette has turned into somewhat of a scapegoat at Arsenal. The club’s vice-captain and 2018/19 player of the season has been the subject of dissatisfaction from Arsenal fans due to his lack of goals. This, consequently, has led many to believe that he should be dropped from the starting eleven completely. I would be inclined to agree with that notion. He is clearly lacking confidence and hasn’t scored an away goal in an entire year. The former Lyon man is currently occupying a role which is undoubtedly Aubameyang’s best position. However, does this mean that we should look to sell the Frenchman? If you were to ask me, I'd be inclined to respond with an emphatic yes. His sale would give Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli more game time in their preferred roles, which can only further aid their development and thus help them fulfill their potential. Furthermore, a hefty transfer fee for the former Lyon man would go some way towards funding moves for players who could fill problem positions. Nonetheless, we all know that on his day Lacazette is one of the Premier League’s best players, and if we failed to bring in a sufficient replacement we would miss what he has to offer. Anyone who watches Arsenal on a weekly basis knows he offers so much more than just goals.
The club captain, Aubameyang, has performed absolutely magnificently since he has joined the club. He won the Premier League’s golden boot last season and has contributed to 49 goals in 61 Premier League appearances for Arsenal. In addition, he's also accounted for over 50% of our goals since he joined us in January 2018. The Gabonese international is also recognised as an importantly jubilant character in the dressing room and is universally admired. Why on earth would you want to sell such a player? Here’s why. The Gabonese International is unhappy about the lack of Champions League football at Arsenal and is seemingly having doubts over whether or not he should sign a new contract. As such a massive character and the club’s talisman, this could lead to major issues in the changing room and the transfer market as well. If the club captain is uncertain as to where his future lies, it could easily lead to the squad becoming divided. The message that will be sent out externally is that Arsenal cannot keep hold of their best players. Additionally, his footballing decline won’t be too far away from him and he is purportedly demanding a meteoric pay rise. These conceptions beg the question; can Arsenal really afford to keep Aubameyang?
The cards have been laid on the table, what do you think? Should Arsenal be looking to offload their main men or should we be doing everything we can to keep hold of the pair? Regardless, our number 9 and number 14 have produced some beautiful moments together and it has been wonderful to watch their bond on and off the pitch grow. If they are to leave this summer, I sincerely hope they can bow out with a trophy, it’s the least they deserve for their endeavours at this club.
Come the end of the season, who knows what will happen? But, for now, we must keep supporting our two best players and give them a platform to perform to the best of their abilities. This way, they can help us ameliorate our 2019/20 season.