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Merson outlines why Ozil is a 'huge problem' for Arsenal in Aubameyang contract negotiations

17:53 GMT+3 21/03/2020
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Mesut Ozil
The former Gunners star admits “a really hard decision” needs to be made in north London, with a prized asset yet to commit to a new contract

Mesut Ozil is part of a “huge problem” for Arsenal when it comes to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future, says Paul Merson, with the Gunners struggling to get a key man tied to a new contract.

Retaining the services of a prolific frontman is considered to be a top priority  for those at Emirates Stadium.

Aubameyang’s current deal in north London is only due to run until the summer of 2021, with talk of a possible big-money transfer being sparked as a result.

Merson admits it would be “a disaster” for Arsenal to lose the services of their current captain, with Mikel Arteta needing to build around his most reliable attacking weapon.

Agreeing an extension with a 30-year-old performer will not be easy, though, with the lucrative terms presented to World Cup winner Ozil in 2018 only serving to complicate matters further.

Ex-Gunners star Merson told Sky Sports:  “It would be a major disaster for Arsenal if they lost Aubameyang, however, the decision will be weighed up and at least it will be the club's decision as to what they do.

“Do they give him £300,000-a-week? I've always said they will have a problem until Mesut Ozil leaves the club. Every day he's there, every other top player will want what he's on. It's a huge problem and not a new one.

“If they want to keep Aubameyang they will have to pay him big money, but Arsenal may look at it and think if we give him £300,000-a-week for the next two or three years, is he going to be the same player? He's nearly 31 and by the time he's 34 he's not going to be the same player. I don't care who you are, at 34 you are not the same player.

“Arsenal may also weigh it up asking if they will win the Premier League or get into the top four in the next few years if they pay Aubameyang £300,000-a-week. They haven't actually done it yet with him there, so they may look at it and say it is good business to let him go.

“There's also the danger of giving him big money, just like they did with Ozil, and then every other player wanting the same. It would take you straight back to the Ozil scenario and if you do spend all that money on him and you don't get into the top four it's not money well spent.

“It's a really hard decision and it will all come down to how the club weigh it up.”

Aubameyang has offered no indication that he is looking for a way out of Arsenal, declaring himself to be “really happy” in his current surroundings,  but the Gunners will be wary of allowing him to head towards free agency, regardless of his obvious value to the collective cause.