Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks ‘disinterested’ and is ‘hiding’ behind Arsenal youngsters, says Jamie Carragher


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has looked a shadow of his former self for much of Arsenal’s season (Picture: Getty)

Jamie Carragher says Arsenal may have another Mesut Ozil situation on their hands with club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and believes the striker appears ‘disinterested’ and has been ‘hiding’ behind his younger team-mates.

Aubameyang had an outstanding season with Arsenal last term, notching up 29 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions, and the 31-year-old was rewarded with a bumper new contract after steering the team to their 14th FA Cup with a double against fierce rivals Chelsea in the final.

But the forward has been a shadow of his former self for much of Arsenal’s rocky campaign this time around and was dropped from Mikel Arteta’s starting XI for the side’s Europa League quarter-final first leg with Slavia Prague last night.

And while Aubameyang came off the bench to assist Nicolas Pepe’s 86th-minute strike – before the Gunners’ visitors found a last-gasp equaliser – the attacker’s worrying decline was once again among the major talking points at Arteta’s post-match press conference.

Aubameyang was dropped by Arteta for the first leg of Arsenal’s Europa League quarter-final (Picture: Getty)

Asked if Aubameyang was on his way to becoming another Ozil, the Spaniard told reporters: ‘I’m always positive about the future but once you think about things that happen in the past or compare different situations and personalities I won’t do that.’

Pressed on whether the Arsenal skipper was committed to the cause, Arteta replied: ‘Totally.’

Aubameyang has scored just nine league goals this term (Picture: Getty)

But former Liverpool and England defender Carragher is unconvinced and questioned Aubameyang’s manner and behaviour across the Gabon international’s ‘concerning’ campaign in his scathing column for The Telegraph.

‘It’s the attitude and demeanour of Aubameyang during the course of this season which is most concerning,’ he wrote.

‘At times he has looked disinterested. Being benched for last night’s Europa League quarter-final was a clear signal of Arteta’s dissatisfaction with him. 

‘Aubameyang’s recent performance against West Ham, when he was subbed after 81 minutes, was one of the poorest I have seen in the Premier League this season.’

Ex-Liverpool defender Carragher believes Arteta has a serious problem in the shape of Aubameyang (Picture: Getty)

Carragher believes senior players failing to pull their weight is an issue which preceded even Unai Emery and reckons the comparisons between Aubameyang and Ozil are justified, with history seemingly repeating itself all over again.

‘They are a malignant influence who will contaminate the training ground and may leave a negative legacy for the generation which follows,’ he added.

‘That’s arguably the biggest, most recurring problem Arteta is trying to fix right now. What was the club’s strength at the turn of the millennium is a serious weakness in 2021. 

‘That’s why patience has run out amongst the club’s fanbase and they would prefer to see Arteta build around his exciting youngsters. That perspective is understandable and Arteta may have no option but to go down that route in the short-term, but it is as damning on the club’s established stars as it is as a compliment to the young talent.

‘Through the latter years of Arsene Wenger, into the reign of Unai Emery and now Arteta, there has been a massive erosion of trust in those who are supposed to be leading by example. We saw that with Mesut Ozil, who Arteta eventually eased out of the club.

‘Now it looks like history is repeating itself with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It is easy to apply retrospective wisdom when looking at the lucrative contract given to Aubameyang and say it was an expensive mistake. It wasn’t at the time.’

Academy products Saka and Smith Rowe have stepped up this season (Picture: Getty)

The likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney have come to the fore during Arsenal’s most difficult times this season and Carragher accused Aubameyang of shying away when his young team-mates have needed him most.

‘The alarm bells were ringing when Aubameyang was dropped before the north London derby for being late for the team’s pre-match get-together. That’s inexcusable in any circumstances, even more so when you are the skipper for a game of such importance,’ he went on.

‘The captain should be the manager’s chief lieutenant, enforcing positive values and discipline. He should be the one making sure the other players are on time, not displaying a casual attitude. It sends a terrible message about his mentality. Unless it is stamped out, impressionable young players see that and think they will get away with the same.

‘There were two ways for the player to react when called out by his manager. Aubameyang ought to have been embarrassed and sought to make amends at the earliest opportunity.

‘He took option two. Instead of playing like he was sorry he delivered an apology of a performance in subsequent Premier League games, as if sulking for being publicly admonished by his manager. In fairness, his 12 minutes as a substitute against Slavia Prague were better. That has to be the case every game.

‘Aubameyang should see that armband as an opportunity to be the driving force beyond a renaissance and inspire the young players. He has been hiding behind them. That saddens me because he is a player I have loved watching in the Premier League, and at 31 it is hard to believe the skills we saw as recently as last season have deserted him.’

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