I have adopted a pretty steady morning routine – wake up, check notifications, check Arsenal news, check Twitter and social media, get some coffee in the system, take the dogs out, and begin formulating and thinking what to write about. Usually, I wake up with a pretty decent idea of what I would like to cover, or think is worth writing about, but given the lack of news during this pandemic – somedays are a lot harder than other. Other days, given my time zone, I wake up and the news has moved at a rapid pace. Like today.
These days, when you wake up and Aubameyang is all over the headlines and his face is plastered in every tweet from the last few hours, your heart stops and your mind races in two different directions – Did he sign or did he leave? Obviously, “did he leave” isn’t really an option given there is still this season to complete and his remaining year, but the notion of him being sold or announcing he won’t be extending is time with Arsenal is real.
Today, we got an interview with Aubameyang from Telefoot – You can read the transcripts here.
It covers a good amount of his French career, but naturally moves onto currently, pressing matters – his time at Arsenal.
“Recently I have not received an offer to extend. But of course we have had exchanges with the club, for a fair few months now. And they know very well why so far nothing has happened. They have the keys. Up to them to do their work and after that we will see how things go.
As you said it is a turning point in my career, and I will be very frank with everyone, it will certainly be a very difficult decision to make. Because I still have not decided and we will see. It will maybe be the most important decision of my career.”
…and what makes this such a turning point?
“…all players and competitors want to win titles. Everyone is going to ask the question, does he want to win them at Arsenal or somewhere else. But as I said, the future will tell us. As I have said already, the club has the keys to this. I am hungry to win titles, and whatever my decision, I intend to fight to win titles… To be clear, nothing has been decided.”
It’s natural for an athlete that is capable of offering his team as much as Aubameyang can to want that production to be validated in not only love from fans and club, but silverware. To have 22 goals result not only in a golden boot, but in a medal and a moment that sees them hoist a silver cup. And Aubameyang’s time is ticking to combine his top-level production with wins.
No one can call into doubt the honest, humble heart of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has, arguably, made choices throughout his career to follow his heart over silverware. Look no further than his international career and decision to play for Gabon over the French team that recently took home a World Cup.
The notion of “head versus heart” is almost palpable in his words. “It will maybe be the most important decision of my career.”
He has made it clear in the past that he likes being in London, likes being at Arsenal, and likes the teammates around him – in no small part thanks to Lacazette. But the truth is, Arsenal are in a bit of a void when it comes to how close they are to achieving silverware that Aubameyang finds worthy of his time and last remaining years. They are obviously closer to it with Aubameyang in the side, but are missing more than a few pieces when it comes to players ready to play at an elite level, on par with what Auba is likely looking for – and deserves.
That’s not a knock on our youth who remain one of the most exciting parts about Arsenal, but they are just that – youth. They are ones for the near future, ones for Arteta to build around, and that could mean Arsenal are a year out if they are capable of purchasing a few more stars or 3-5 years out if they have to grow their youth into their primes to reach max production. Only one of these options helps Aubameyang in the now, making this a tough decision.
I would go as far as to suggest that it’s not entirely an issue of money. There is a price for everything they say, and there is, but as the clock wanes on his career and his money has been made, priorities like winning take over in the minds of elite athletes, who are willing to sacrifice another pay day in return for a chance at feeling a moment of victory where they raise the trophy and are on top of the world.
I have little reason to doubt him when he says the decision won’t be easy and is far from made, but one quote stood out to me that was separate from the discussion of his future that sheds some light on how the footballing world has shaped him. It came when he talked about being disappointed in having such little time under Arsene Wenger who brought him to Arsenal.
“It was very short and it was a shame that I did not get the chance to get to know him more. It was thanks to him that I came here, the time I had with him will remain a real souvenir. Aside from that, it’s football. Constantly moving and turning. It was certainly an emotional moment, I think everyone felt that, seeing him leave after so many years.”
There’s the line “Aside from that, it’s football. Constantly moving and turning.” There is something about it that feels like the phrasing of a veteran athlete that has been around the game long enough to know there is oft a separation between what the heart wants and what happens in the game.
By no means does is guarantee he is on his way out the door, but shows the acknowledgement that sometimes in football you have to do what you have to do, when there will always be parts of your head and heart that disagree.
The ball is in Arsenal’s court, “they have the keys”, and will have to sell him on the project and plans or move him along. Losing him on a free hardly seems like an acceptable outcome, but…
aside from that, it’s football. Constantly moving and turning.