Mikel Arteta says that ex-Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deserves a warm welcome by the club's fans if he ends up joining Chelsea. Aubameyang has emerged as an option for the Blues as they look to strengthen in attack just six months after he left Arsenal to join Barcelona.
The Gabon international spent four years at Arsenal and was appointed club captain, but was soon stripped of the armband and dropped from the team by Arteta before he was released and moved to Camp Nou in February.
Will Aubameyang join Chelsea?
Aubameyang has been linked with a move back to London this summer as Chelsea have identified him as a possible signing before the close of the transfer window.
The Blues hope to bring in another attacker and coach Thomas Tuchel said recently that he and the ex-Borussia Dortmund star share a "close bond".
Arteta was asked at a press conference about the chances of Chelsea signing his former charge, to which he replied: "Auba is an exceptional player. He did so much for us. He was our captain, and I think we have to be grateful, very grateful as well, for what he did for this club."
He added: "I hope he [gets a good reception from Arsenal fans at the Emirates Stadium] because I think he deserves that. There are moments in life, there are moments in your career, and sometimes the trajectory or the objective of each individual is different to the clubs - and you have to respect that."
What has Arteta said about Aubameyang?
Footage of Arteta announcing to the squad that Aubameyang was no longer the club's captain has emerged in the Amazon Prime documentary about the team's season.
In the documentary, Arteta admits that Aubameyang was dropped because of disciplinary reasons, saying: "He's been late, apart from all the issues, many times. When you get paid that much money…"
He then says in an interview: "When I looked in his eyes and I saw and I felt what I felt, that level of trust was gone."
The coach was asked about the incident appearing in the documentary and he defended his decision.
"Listen, it’s a long time since that happened. I cannot go back each time there is a series," he said.
"I have made my comments on that. I was really clear and honest with my opinion. What has been done has always been done to defend the club and put it in the best possible position, and be always as clear as, honest and consistent as we can."