Arsenal legends Martin Keown and Paul Merson disagree over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang departure

Arsenal legends Paul Merson and Martin Keown see the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang situation rather differently.

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Aubameyang’s fall from grace at the Emirates Stadium was not a particularly pretty one.

The Gabon international fell out with Mikel Arteta and was stripped of his captaincy shortly after.

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The 32-year-old then cancelled his contract by mutual consent, with Arsenal allowing him to join Barcelona on a free transfer, shifting his big wage off the books.

Aubameyang was once Arsenal’s star striker, managing back-to-back 22-goal Premier League seasons.

But the Gunners now find themselves needing to replace him, and they have struggled to find solutions with a real lack of goals of late.

That’s something that concerns Keown, looking at the top four race, which looks about as tight as ever,

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“It does worry me that with Aubameyang, when he lost the captaincy I was fearful that we would lose the player as well," Keown said on the Seaman Says Podcast recently.

“If you look at the last few games, we didn’t score against Burnley, we didn’t score against Forest, the two games in the League Cup against Liverpool, we didn’t score in those either.

“There’s an issue right now in trying to score goals. I assume that he’s spending the time on the training ground trying to solve that.”

Fellow Arsenal legend Merson sees things rather differently, though.

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According to Merson, the team dynamic is more important, especially with Aubameyang struggling to reach his best form over the last year or so.

“I think it leaves Arsenal in a better place,” said Merson on Sky Sports. “It’s a bit like the Dele Alli situation.

“You will show Dele’s goals of about six or seven years ago. Well, Aubameyang’s goals were last year and the year before. He hasn’t done too much recently.

“I think he is a big influence in the dressing room with the younger kids. I think behind-the-scenes, the manager has done a good job and thought ‘I need to get rid of him’.

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“People are saying they are short, well maybe they are. But next season, they have to go and get a superstar.”

Arsenal do indeed look short of goal-scoring options having failed to land a striker in the January transfer window.

And that will likely be Arteta’s biggest challenge between now and the end of the season as he looks to bring Champions League football back to the red half of north London.

But as Merson alludes to, the positive is that the Spanish boss will be able to see the likes of Gabriel Martinelli in the central role ahead of making decisions for next season.

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