The Arsenal boss has stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the captaincy and made him train alone, while both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are heading into the last six months of their respective contracts
Mikel Arteta admits the situation involving Arsenal’s strikers – not least banished former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, has cast a major cloud over the Gunners campaign.
However, the Arsenal boss is hopeful that his striking issues can soon be resolved, as his side push for a top four spot in the second half of the season.
Arsenal started December knowing that they had issues over Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, with both out of contract next summer and free to talk to overseas clubs in January.
Those issues have since been exacerbated by Aubameyang who has missed the Gunners’ last four matches following internal disciplinary action.
As things stand, all three of the club’s senior strikers could be heading elsewhere in 2022, leaving only young star Folarin Balogun.
Arteta conceded: “We have a cloud and the cloud is there. At the moment we’re not able to change it.
“We’re working on it to try to make it as small as possible and as clear as possible but it’s the situation we are in because contracts have details, the timing of them is tricky and we are trying to resolve it.”
The Arsenal boss won’t rule out Lacazette or Nketiah signing new deals at the Emirates.
Nketiah, who scored a hat-trick in the Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Sunderland in midweek, was set to depart last summer but elected to stay but is likely to again be the subject of interest in January – both for the summer and immediate moves.
“It depends on every single case, depends on the player’s situation, the minutes he’s playing, his willingness or the offer that you have, but it’s something that you have to consider,” the 39-year-old added.
The futures of both are set to be dependent on the situation with Aubameyang, stripped of the captaincy and training alone, for an incident described as a “disciplinary breach”, after a late return from a trip abroad to visit his ill mother.
It is not the first time Aubameyang has been punished in public after the 32-year-old was also dropped in March for the visit of Tottenham due to another disciplinary breach.
That led to Arteta pointing out this week that he is far from a dictator, insisting: “I don’t establish my authority by being dictatorial or being ruthless.
“I just ask for respect and commitment. At this level, if I don’t get that I pack my bags and go somewhere else because that is the minimum I can ask for.
“I am sorry but I am going to expect that from everybody who works for the club. First of all myself, and the day I don’t do that I walk through that door and go and do something else. It is as clear as that.
“To be successful you have to be passionate about something and you want to represent a club of this size with its history, that is the minimum standard you have to bring.
“I am not going to ask anybody to put the ball into the top corner every time they hit it, but I will ask them to do the right things every single day for this club. That is for sure.”