Yesterday we finally heard from Aubameyang after his move to Barcelona was signed, sealed and delivered to the people of Catalonia, with the striker opening up about his exit. As you’d expect it was all his variation of the events that unfolded, but he didn’t tell us too much in terms of what went down, only that the issue was between him and Arteta, that he had stayed ‘calm’, that it was done and obviously he’s now looking forward to a different challenge.
Nothing too controversial in it, because I think we all knew that this was an Arteta/Aubameyang thing. His post to fans afterwards suggests that he still holds the club, fans and the rest of the staff in high regard. And although we knew that there were reported issues with him when we signed him with Dortmund, I’m loathed to completely lay all of the blame at his door on this one. It does indeed take two to tango and this particular saga just doesn’t sit right with me. Perhaps it is because we have weakened ourselves, or because we now have some really weak options in centre forward, that is clouding my judgement a bit. But I just can’t shake this slight concern I have in the back of my mind about the man management side of this saga. We all know about Arteta’s “non-negotiables”. We all know that he was a model pro and a disciplinarian and i’ve heard a few people speculate that he clearly expects that from his “guys”. Auba clearly wasn’t that, Ozil and Gudendouzi obviously weren’t that either, but surely there is a way to find a balance, right?
I wonder if there is? I wonder what happens if Arteta signs a player who is super talented, has all the tools he needs, yet has that creative ‘flair’ side of themselves which comes with added temperament? Would he bin a player that is wholly his selection choice? Guendouzi and Ozil were handed to him and he kicked them into touch. Fine. But the Auba deal was on his watch, as was the Willian deal, although Willian didn’t seem to have as many transgressions as Auba apparently has. There was that trip to Dubai which may have played a part, but broadly speaking Willian seemed to be a decent enough pro. He just wasn’t good at football any more.
We won’t find out anything from Arteta and he will most certainly not answer any questions about the whole debacle when he is in front of the cameras next. But that also doesn’t help the overall PR from his side. Auba has had his say and Arteta will say nothing, so we will only ever get one side of the story. Which paints him in a slightly negative light, because it looks like he’s happy to torch relationships with players if they even put a pinky out of line.
I don’t know, it’s all just another saga that feels like we could have done without, at a time in which feel a little more tense anyway with the shallow squad and mass exodus of players.
What I was disappointed with yesterday with regards to this deal, was the news on the Athletic that having heard a wave of press about Arsenal saving oodles of cash on the deal, was that in fact we have paid Auba a wad of cash to terminate his deal. I get it, we weren’t going to use him so surely it is better that we get some money saved, rather than pay him the full whack to have him sit at home. But this still strikes to the original deal being overly inflated, it should ask questions on those who pressed for the deal, and in that you have to look at both Arteta and Edu. They are both culpable, but I am starting to also get the nervous ‘feels’ about Edu now. I’ve heard people say he’s doing a great job, but it appears from where I’m standing that his great job is to pay people to leave. That isn’t a great look and the confirmation yesterday is just adding to my worry.
Maybe I’m wrong. I have little information about the workings at London Colney and Highbury House. I don’t know if actually he’s a guy doing all the right things and overall he’s just working with a bad bit of legacy football admin. But when you see him Instagramming pictures of himself sipping champagne whilst Arsenal are struggling to get the right type of business done that will at least give us bodies to strengthen the squad and, well, the optics don’t look great is all I’m saying.
I’m happy to be proved wrong though. Maybe I will. But right now whilst Arteta can do something to continue to keep me excited for the future of Arsenal by getting the players on the pitch playing well and scoring goals, I’m going to continue to have this nagging doubt over Edu for a while longer. It is weird though because you kind of have to treat them both as a package I guess. If we crash and burn and end up finishing seventh or eighth then on the one hand you have to look at Arteta and say he hasn’t kicked on and should probably pay by losing his job. But at the same time I’m convinced he won’t have wanted to lose so many players and have such a light squad come 1st February, so surely that’s on the football admin team to make the right moves, which is on Edu, Richard Garlick, Vinai et al. They should also carry some of the blame for any failings this season too. There’s no good booting Arteta and then keeping the same people that oversaw the January transfer window debacle, is there?
Something for you to ponder on a Friday morning. Hit me up with some of your thoughts in the comments.