Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been warned that finding a replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the summer could cost the club £80million and because of that he should “take a hit” and keep the striker at the club. That is the opinion of former England and Arsenal footballer Paul Merson.
The former attacking midfielder has praised Arteta for improving the atmosphere around the club since he took over in December but feels a clear-out in the summer could benefit the Gunners.
One of the big issues he thinks the Spaniard is going to have to face is to do with the club’s strikers, Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette.
Aubameyang joined Arsenal in January 2018 from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth £56million.
And while the 30-year-old has been in fantastic form for the Gunners since his move, as of yet he hasn’t looked to extend his current £200,000-a-week deal, which will expire in the summer of 2021.
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Barcelona expressed an interest in signing Aubameyang last month but were unwilling to meet the Gunners valuation.
However, Merson thinks the club should keep the striker who has scored 57 goals in 92 appearances for the Gunners.
“The forwards are going to want to know what’s happening next season,” Merson said in his column for the Daily Star.
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“Will they play every week? Are they in Europe?
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette are both coming to the end of their contracts but I would take a hit and keep Aubameyang.
“Yes, he’s 30 now but if you get rid of him now for £30m he’s going to cost £80m to replace. So just keep him. He will get you 15 goals a season.”
Arsenal are currently 10th in the table and 10 points off fourth-placed Chelsea.
With 13 games left in the Premier League the Gunners now risk not only missing on on qualifying for the Champions League but might be in a situation where they don’t have any European football next season.
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The Gunners have several first-team players who are now in the final 18 months of their contracts, including Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi.
Merson thinks that not only will several players want to leave at the end of the season, Arsenal will also want to sell some of the players who have underperformed.
“Arsenal have improved under Mikel Arteta,” Merson said.
“The players are all working for him and it looks like there’s more harmony at the club.
“But I still think he’s going to have players wanting to leave at the end of the season, and I think Arsenal will want to get rid of a few.
“They need a clear-out, and he needs to build the spine of a team. All the top teams are strong down the middle. But Arsenal are not.”
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