Mikel Arteta has insisted that he was the solution to the problem of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – not the problem. Arsenal’s maverick striker finally left the club in January for Barcelona after the Gunners terminated his £350,000 a week contract.
It came after the Gabon striker had been stripped of the captaincy and dropped by Arteta – and the striker on arriving at the Nou Camp said: “It was a problem just with him (Arteta). He made the decision. I stayed very calm.”’
But the Arsenal manager said: “I’ve been the solution, 100 per cent, the way I see myself in that relationship. I can look in the eye of anybody.
“I do a lot of things wrong, but the intention all the time is the best and not for me – for the club.
“It’s his opinion. You have to respect that.
“It ended up in the best possible way. What we did yesterday is not relevant. It’s what we’re doing today and in the future. You have to make decisions. We made the decision that the best thing to do was to move on. and now he plays for Barcelona.
“I am extremely grateful for Auba’s contribution. The importance of his goals is unquestionable – but we have other qualities to try to accomplish the amount of goals we need.”
Asked whether he was sending out a message that no one is bigger than the club, Arteta insisted: “I don’t send that message – it’s not just me here. We make decisions to defend the club.”
Arteta, though, hinted that there were problems in the dressing room that prompted the January exit of Aubameyang – with players unhappy with the Gabon striker’s antics.
He said: “I don’t think I am too hard. There are some minimums – a line you cannot cross. If somebody is going to cross it because he has scored 25 or 30 goals, that dressing room has to accept it.
“I like to see, smell and sense where this is going, and if possible anticipate issues. The players knew what was happening.”
The Gunners are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Wolves.
And it is a big game in their hunt for a place in the top four, with Arteta no doubt desperate to lead his side into the Champions League for the first time.