Mikel Arteta’s hopes of offloading Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January have been dealt a seemingly fatal blow after talks over a loan move to Barcelona broke down on deadline day.
Arteta sanctioned Aubameyang’s departure in the January transfer window after stripping the Gabon striker of the captaincy and freezing him out of the side.
La Liga giants Barcelona emerged as the frontrunners to sign Aubameyang and were in advanced talks with Arsenal about a loan deal, with the player pictured in the Spanish city on Monday afternoon as he attempted to force the move through.
But The Athletic say the proposed loan deal has collapsed due to a disagreement over the planned salary coverage for the next six months.
The update means that, barring a late change in Barcelona’s financial proposal, Aubameyang will not be moving to the Nou Camp and will instead return to Arsenal.
Aubameyang also attracted interest from Italian heavyweights Juventus and Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal earlier in the month but Aubameyang was said to favour a move to Barcelona.
It remains to be seen whether Arteta would be willing to offer a lifeline to Aubameyang following his return to London but he has not included him in any of Arsenal’s matchday squads since early December.
Discussing Aubameyang’s future on deadline day, former Arsenal and England winger Paul Merson told Sky Sports: ‘I’m not really surprised [that Aubameyang has flown to Barcelona before a deal is agreed] because sometimes he does what he wants to do.
‘He’s trying to push this through now. He’s got nothing to lose. if he doesn’t go, he’ll go back to Arsenal and pick up big wages for the next six months.
‘It’s a shame Barcelona aren’t the team they used to be because then it would be a story. What’s gone on behind the scenes, it looks like Arsenal needed to get him out of the club – that’s the main thing.
‘In terms of getting someone in, I’m not sure about that at the moment. I think it’s just getting him out of the dressing room. There’s a lot of youngsters that look up to him and I think they could have the wrong influence.’