Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta facing huge call after reason behind ‘collapsed’ Aubameyang transfer emerges

Aubameyang Arteta TEAMtalk

The proposed loan move of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona has collapsed for one critical reason, leaving Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta with a tricky dilemma.

Aubameyang’s future had become one of the hottest topics at the Emirates this month. After being stripped of the club’s captaincy in early-December, speculation swirled his latest disciplinary breach was the final straw for Mikel Arteta.

Indeed, Aubameyang was exiled from the first-team, prompting talk his Gunners career could be cut short in the winter window.

A permanent sale always appeared unlikely. As such, the loan route came into focus, and it did not take long before concrete interest materialised.

Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal made a loan offer with an option to buy. Arsenal were understood to be willing to accept the terms, though Aubameyang preferred to remain in Europe.

That put Barcelona front and centre in the picture, with the Athletic’s David Ornstein stating an Aubameyang exit was likely.

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The Spanish side’s money woes ensured financing even a loan deal would be difficult. Aubameyang’s £350,000-per-week salary was an obvious stumbling block, and how the wages would be split between the two clubs was always going to prove key.

Now, Ornstein has revealed Aubameyang’s exit has now ‘collapsed’, and the financial aspect has proved fatal.

Writing in the Athletic, the trusted journalist stated the proposed loan move has ‘broken down’.

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A disagreement over the ‘planned salary coverage’ has seen the move ‘collapse’. Ornstein added that ‘barring a late change’, Aubameyang will not be moving to the Camp Nou.

It would appear too late into the day for another suitor to push a late swoop over the line. Juventus had been interested if Alvaro Morata’s loan deal was cut short, though the Spaniard now appears destined to remain in Turin.

And with Aubameyang now seemingly set to continue in north London, Mikel Arteta is now faced with a tricky dilemma.

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Will Arteta re-integrate Aubameyang?

Arteta had taken a hard-line approach with Aubameyang. Beyond stripping him of the captaincy, he also overlooked Aubameyang for selection in every Arsenal match prior to his departure to AFCON.

But with Arsenal’s striker hunt looking like it won’t bear fruit, Aubameyang could yet have a critical role to play in their push for top four.

That would require a U-turn from Arteta, and could also disrupt a front four that had operated so smoothly following Aubameyang’s exile.

Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli all thrived when operating behind lone centre-forward Alexandre Lacazette.

However, both Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are out of contract in the summer. If neither pen fresh terms, Arteta may be forced into bringing Aubameyang back into the fold for this season and beyond out of necessity alone.

READ MORE: Morata future set as Arsenal striker hunt takes final Vlahovic-inspired twist