Mikel Arteta has stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy. In his recent press conference, Arteta said he informed Aubameyang of the decision privately, face-to-face. The decision comes after Aubameyang returned late from a club-sanctioned personal trip to bring his ailing mother back from France, which caused a problem with COVID-testing and clearance to train. Aubameyang remains suspended for Wednesday’s match against West Ham United.
Said Arteta, “I don’t have much more to say as it’s a really clear statement from the club. It’s a decision we made following the latest incident we had with the player. As you can imagine, when we make that decision it’s because it’s the right one to defend the interests of the football club.”
When pressed about Aubameyang’s status going forward, when he might return to the squad, and whether he might be sold in January, Arteta did not answer, saying that he would not discuss the details of private conversations. He also repeatedly emphasized that it was a difficult decision and that for now Aubameyang is not involved in the squad.
The club will rely on a “leadership group” to wear the armband in the wake of the decision according to The Athletic. Arteta specifically mentioned that in the Southampton match both Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka wore the armband. Rob Holding has also worn it at points this season.
I would not be surprised if Arsenal do not name a new, full-time captain until next season. Mikel Arteta and Edu are still overhauling the roster, and there will likely be significant player movement in the summer window, especially among senior players including Xhaka and Lacazette. There will also be incoming players, and although it would be unconventional to give the armband to a new player, it’s not impossible, either.
I don’t think there is much to be gained by analyzing how this decision may or may not affect the dressing room or how the players view Mikel Arteta or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. There is too much that we don’t know and will never know. The best we can hope for is that with this decision, the situation is handled and the club can focus on West Ham and the busy Christmas period beyond that.