Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has stressed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains an integral part of the first-team squad and has no plans of parting ways with the Gabon international.
Aubameyang has been the standout performer in the attacking department for the north London club this season and he has already netted 15 times in all competitions, with 13 of those coming in the Premier League.
The 30-year-old recently had a phase where he struggled to make any impact from the centre-forward role but his move to the left side of the attack has brought the best out of him under new boss Arteta.
Aubameyang has netted twice over the past three league games for the club but more importantly, he has shown an improvement in the workrate and has looked to track back and help the defence at every possible opportunity.
Despite the positives, there has been a lingering question regarding the forward’s future with his Gunners contract due to expire in 18 months’ time but Arteta is quite clear that Aubameyang is going nowhere.
“I don’t even think about that possibility [of him leaving] with Auba. I want him here,” he told in the press conference ahead of the FA Cup third round tie against Leeds United on Monday night.
The Gunners’ poor league performances have not aided the negotiations over a new contract with Aubameyang but things are looking positive under Arteta, where there has been a notable change in terms of the commitment of the players on the field.
A Champions League spot remains at a distance with the nine-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea but a strong run of results in the next few months could enhance the club’s prospects of convincing Aubameyang to pen an extension.
Of course, winning the Europa League guarantees a spot in the Champions League group stage next season and that should not be the prime focus at the moment, particularly with the teams from fourth onwards going through periods of inconsistent results.