Mikel Arteta forced into unwanted contract and Arsenal captaincy decision amid power struggle

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has performed yet another disciplinary breach. The striker returned late from a pre-agreed personal absence and was punished by Mikel Arteta in the form of a match suspension.

Aubameyang previously arrived late for the north London derby match last season and was dropped again from the starting line-up. However, he was simply an unused substitute on the Arsenal bench whereas for yesterday’s game he was out of the side entirely. This is likely because he arrived at the match late as opposed to training.

Mikel Arteta now faces the difficult fallout from the actions of his club captain. Speaking after the game, the Spaniard did seemingly confirm that the 32-year-old would return for the critical midweek clash with West Ham.

When asked by reporters if he would return for the next match in the post-match press conference, which you can watch on The Arsenal Way, he simply nodded.

Alexandre Lacazette started and was captain for the 3-0 win over Southampton. This raises questions regarding what Arteta should do about both the captaincy and Aubameyang’s future.

Lacazette has just six months left on his deal when the January transfer window opens, whereas his striker colleague has 18 months.

The Frenchman has shown far greater professionalism during his Arsenal career. He has been credited with his welcoming nature and how he helps the Arsenal youngsters when they work with the senior team.

He was pictured enthusiastically celebrating Calum Chambers goal against Leeds United in the League Cup quarter-final win.

However, so far, the expectation is that he will leave the club at the end of the season with currently no news regarding a contract proposal.

The actions of Aubameyang should change this. The links to strikers suggest the Gunners are on the lookout for a marquee forward, likely in the 2022 summer window.

However, with Aubameyang’s future uncertain and the possibility of a summer departure ever-increasing, perhaps offering Lacazette a new deal might be the correct path.

Were both to leave alongside Eddie Nketiah, whose contract also expires in June, only Folarin Balogun would be left as a natural striking option. Arsenal need to invest in midfield and in further positions in the summer dependent upon additional departures.

The idea that the club would sign two strikers could detract investment away from other priority positions. Prioritising the future of Lacazette over Aubameyang could be a solution.

The problem being is that the Gabonese forward’s extortionate wages and age make it difficult to find a suitor.

Technical director Edu and Arteta have a big job on their hands as they look to continue moulding the squad in the image and vision of the Spaniard. Aubameyang appears increasingly unlikely to be part of it but a glimmer of hope remains for Lacazette.