May 16, 2021

‘Arsenal mustn’t be held to ransom by Aubameyang’ – Vital that Gunners get deal right, says Keown

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A prolific Gabonese frontman is yet to commit to fresh terms at Emirates Stadium, but the future is looking brighter for the club under Mikel Arteta

Arsenal cannot afford to be “held to ransom” in contract negotiations with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, says Martin Keown, with the Gunners having already had their fingers burned by Mesut Ozil.

Back in January 2018, the north London outfit dug deep in an effort to prevent a key man from hitting free agency.

World Cup winner Ozil was handed the most lucrative deal in the club’s history, but little return has been found in that investment.

Arsenal now find themselves in a similar situation with Aubameyang, with their club captain having entered the final 12 months of his current terms.

Confidence has been aired at Emirates Stadium when it comes to reaching an agreement, but Keown has warned the Gunners against paying over the odds for a player who is now 31 years of age.

The former Arsenal defender told PA Sport: “[Mikel] Arteta has been there less than eight months and walked away with an FA Cup, he is someone who can make a difference (to Aubameyang’s decision) and if he wants the striker at the football club he will be influential.

“The previous manager, Unai Emery, was saying he wasn’t part of the negotiations for Aaron Ramsey.

“Well this time round Arteta made it his place to be involved in the negotiations and that is only right and proper.

“I don’t think they should be held to ransom as they appeared to be over the Mesut Ozil contract but on the pitch Aubameyang seems like a different person.

“Just getting him to sign keeps a huge amount of belief and hope for the future – but not one individual is bigger than the football club as the Ozil saga has shown.”

Keown added on the Aubameyang saga, which has seen Arsenal fail to reach a compromise with a striker who has recorded 70 goals through 109 appearances for the club: “I think it is really important that the club get this one right.

“When you watch him play, we know he has all of the qualities on the football pitch, but he seems to me like a very decent young man.

“He is a very good individual who loves the club, the players are all around him as we saw them celebrating the FA Cup.

“You can tell there is a buzz, something is growing and a new culture is developing and of course Aubameyang was the right choice for captain.

“He sets the standard on the pitch and he carried that responsibility and will look to continue to do so – they wouldn’t want to lose him.”