Arsenal cannot allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract saga to mirror those of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, says Martin Keown, with the Gunners urged to make a definitive decision on the future of a striker he thinks is proving to be comparable with Thierry Henry.
The prolific Gabon international proved he belongs in illustrious company when netting the match-winning double in the FA Cup final against Chelsea.
His efforts at Wembley, which saw him convert from the penalty spot and net a stunning solo strike, mean that Arsenal will have continental competition in the Europa League next season.
That may be enough to convince Aubameyang that he should stay put, with the offer of a new deal on the table at Emirates Stadium. The 31-year-old frontman is yet to put pen to paper, with the uncertainty surrounding his future doing nobody any favours in north London.
It is not the first time that Arsenal have found themselves in such a situation with expiring contracts becoming an all too familiar theme, and Keown wants the Gunners to act swiftly and decisively on this occasion as they mull over what to do with such a talismanic presence.
“Arsene Wenger was always careful with how he spent money but midway through his final season in charge he agreed to splash out £56 million (€62m/$73m) for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,” Keown told the Daily Mail. “The 31-year-old has not signed an extension and it is now important that Arsenal resolve his future one way or another this summer.
“They cannot allow another distracting contract saga to crop up, as we saw with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, but if Aubameyang does depart, then they will need to replace the goals they are losing.
“He guarantees you 20 a season at least — even when operating as an inside forward from the left wing.
“I've compared Aubameyang to Thierry Henry previously and as someone who shared a dressing room with Arsenal's greatest ever goalscorer, I don't do so lightly.
“Strikers can do special things in training but it's about doing it in the big moments, too. Henry used to do that, and Aubameyang did it against Chelsea.
“Unfortunately, it feels more likely that he is going to go than stay. The clock is ticking on his career so the next contract and club choice is an important one.
“Arsenal won the FA Cup on Saturday because they had the best player on the pitch in Aubameyang. For how much longer they have him, time will tell.”
Aubameyang’s brace against Chelsea means that he has now found the target on 70 occasions in 109 appearances for Arsenal.