Arteta reflects on two years since becoming Arsenal boss
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will leave Arsenal in January should an offer arrive, Express Sport understands. The Gabon international, who was recently stripped of the Arsenal captaincy by Mikel Arteta following a disciplinary breach, is now heading for the exit door with the Gunners willing to cut their losses with the 32-year-old.
After helping fire his side to FA Cup glory in the summer of 2020, Aubameyang finally put pen-to-paper on a lucrative three-year contract.
Yet since then, his form has plummeted having managed just 14 Premier League goals in his past 43 outings – a strike rate of just 0.32 per game.
That’s a stark contrast from his first two-and-a-half seasons in north London when he managed 54 goals in 85 matches (0.64 per game) – including the 2019/20 Premier League golden boot that he shared with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
But now Arteta is prepared to move on from Aubameyang – who is yet to feature in a matchday since he was dropped for the 3-0 win over Southampton – with the striker now training away from the first-team set-up.
Barcelona have been linked with the forward in recent transfer windows but the Catalan giants are also understood to be targeting Edinson Cavani.
Should Aubameyang depart this winter, Arsenal are prepared to stick with their current striking options until the summer transfer window.
Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are now approaching the final six months of their contracts and as things stand, they’re also set to depart at the end of the season.
But for now, Arteta is willing to place his trust in the duo, who he would still like to keep at the club.
So far, Express Sport understands there are two names on Arsenal’s wish-list when it comes to signing a new marquee No 9.
One of those is Fiorentina sensation Dusan Vlahovic, who fits Arteta and Edu’s freshly-devised transfer policy like a glove.
The Serbian frontman recently matches Cristiano Ronaldo’s Serie A record of 33 goals in a calendar year as his value continues to soar.
Vlahovic is, however, out of contract in the summer of 2023 meaning Fiorentina must approach negotiations cautiously.
Demanding over the odds and upwards of £70million could scare off potential suitors and leave them at risk of losing Vlahovic either on the cheap or for free further down the line.
Nonetheless, Arsenal’s interest has already hit a roadblock with the player’s agent Darko Ristic refusing to pick up the phone to the Gunners because his client does not appear interested in joining the club.
Atletico Madrid and Tottenham are also interested while Manchester City could yet enter the fray.
There is another name on Arsenal’s radar though in the form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The Everton frontman, who has missed the majority of the campaign through injury, is rated highly by Arteta and there is a feeling that the striker would welcome a new challenge given the Toffees’ lack of progress.
Arsenal are keen to assess how Calvert-Lewin responds from a considerable lay-off on his return to full fitness before they will decide to make their move.
Express Sport also understands Arsenal are making plans to send young striker Folarin Balogun on loan – you can read more on that in January in Taylor’s Tuesday Transfers column that drops on January 4…
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