The former Gunners frontman believes that tying the Gabonese striker to fresh terms would be as big as winning the FA Cup
Tying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract would be as big as winning the FA Cup for Arsenal, says Charlie Nicholas, but he accepts the “goal machine” will move on if Real Madrid or Barcelona come calling.
The Gunners have been locked in extension talks with their club captain for some time. No deal has been done, with the prolific 31-year-old frontman entering the final 12 months of his deal as a result.
With no fresh terms agreed, it has been suggested that Arsenal may have to reluctantly sanction a sale in order to avoid losing a prized asset for nothing in the summer of 2021.
Aubameyang has remained coy on his future plans, despite stating his happiness in north London, and the general consensus is that an approach from a leading European club would see his head turned.
Nicholas fears that will be the case, but he is refusing to give up hope when it comes to keeping such a talismanic figure at Emirates Stadium.
The former Gunners frontman told Sky Sports of Aubameyang ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup final with Chelsea on Saturday: “It’s vital they keep hold of him, but if Real Madrid or Barcelona were to show interest in him at his age, and he wants to go, he’ll go. We had to let the best I’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt – Thierry Henry – go because he wanted to join Barca.
“That’s the reality as this guy is a goal machine. When you look back at the wages we gave Mesut Ozil, we had to put up with Alexis Sanchez until we part-exchanged him, this guy is of the same ilk where you’re wondering if it’s worth giving him the big salary.
“Personally, I think it is as there’s very little guaranteed in football, but the guarantee he gives you when he’s fit is goals. Goals for Arsenal are the main ingredient in the way they play. Arsenal’s duty now is to fix a defence that has been weak for the past six or seven years.
“Gradually, I think Arteta will do that, but the club are still being held to ransom a little bit [over Aubameyang]. If Arsenal are to finally get this [contract] over the line, you give him what he wants, and then Aubameyang still becomes a sellable asset if he then wants to leave in a year.
“If we run it down, as we did with Aaron Ramsey, you’re just holding on to someone who isn’t entirely committed to the cause. I’m hopeful now that Aubameyang will re-sign – Arsenal, get it over the line! It would be as big a boost as winning the FA Cup. That’s how big it would be.”