The protracted contract extension of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was probably the most important signature of the transfer window for the club. The Gabon striker’s contribution to an average Arsenal side had prevented an undignified scrap to avoid relegation and the only other player that probably kept the Gunners away from danger zone was Bernd Leno.
This was the big chance for Aubameyang, his last chance to secure the most important contract of his career. At the age of 30 and above, players are looking for that ‘final destination’ that cements their legacy or gives them one last big payday, but Aubameyang hasn’t had to worry about either issue. Arsenal were always going to pay the going rate for the striker who could eventually challenge the goal tally of club legend Thierry Henry.
Aubameyang needed the security of a reasonable contract, thought to be three years, with an option for an additional 12 months but more importantly, Aubameyang wanted to know what Arsenal’s ambitions were and if they were going to add to the squad.
Aubameyang has been knee-deep in opinion from family, friends, even the Gabon FA President Pierre Alain Mounguengui, who incidentally was against the player remaining at the Emirates.
We’ve been told during this soccer saga of will he/won’t he, that Aubameyang had made a promise to his grandfather to finish his career with Real Madrid. However, no such interest has been made due to the Spanish side’s top-heavy wage bill and that applies to a host of leading clubs. Aubameyang himself is at home at Arsenal, adored by the fans, admired and liked by the coaching staff, and viewed as the star player at the club by its owners.
Losing him would have been a disaster and with the absence of top-flight European football, it was a distinct possibility, but Aubameyang has established roots and after he clashed with Borussia Dortmund, the player is looking for happiness and contentment in his job. He is in one of the best leagues in the world with one of the biggest clubs in the country, about to embark on a new journey of rebuilding to challenge for top honours.
Yet, AD understands from a source close to the club that there is a break clause added to the deal, the details of which are unclear. It could be in case Real Madrid come calling, but that’s just me using my intuitive and furtive imagination, other than that, why would you need one. If that is the case, Arsenal aren’t about to advertise the fact and alert rival clubs that may or may not fancy their chances of landing the star in a year’s time.
The player is club captain and Arteta has promised to build a side around him that can provide him with goals and accolades. This leads me to believe that reports of a limited budget of £30m could be wide off the mark.
Yes, Arsenal are going to look for quality but they are also going to get value for money if Willian’s signing is anything to go by and I can see the former Chelsea star providing the number 14 with countless opportunities outside or through the middle.
Aubameyang has met with Mikel Arteta since the FA Cup final win against Chelsea and they have spoken about the road ahead for him and the club. Arteta may be relatively inexperienced as a coach, but his reassuring and persuasive tones appear to have sealed the contract deal with Aubameyang.
Finally, Arsenal have held on to a World-class player having failed so often over the years. Arsenal fans have watched helplessly as a string of top performers including the likes Henry, Vieira, Cole, Van Persie, and Pires, swapped the red and white of Arsenal for major honours at rival clubs.
If Arsenal fans remain unconvinced by Mikel Arteta’s plan, then they are perhaps beyond understanding. Aubameyang’s presence is the most positive sign that the club and team are heading in the right direction.
It gives us hope for next season and allows us to dream of challenging for the Premier League in two or three years. Aubameyang and Arteta have only been together for 8 months and that has yielded a trophy. If the Spaniard can find the right players to up the quality, then it may be the first of many.