Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he was “the solution, not the problem” in his relationship with former Gunners striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The 32-year-old was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after his “latest disciplinary breach” in December.

The striker said “it was a problem just with [Arteta]”, when he joined Barcelona on a free transfer last week.

Arteta responded on Wednesday, saying: “I’ve been the solution, 100%. I can look in the eye of anybody.”

The Gunners’ boss added: “I do a lot of things wrong, for sure – the intention all the time is the best and not for me, it’s for the club and the team.

“I’m extremely grateful for what Auba has done at the club and his contribution since I have been here. The way I see myself in that relationship is the solution, not the problem.”

Arteta confirmed that French striker Alexandre Lacazette will be the Arsenal captain till the end of the season, when the 30-year-old’s contract is due to expire.

Barcelona confirm Aubameyang signing on free transfer
Asked about Gabon international Aubameyang saying Arteta was the problem, the Spaniard replied: “That’s his opinion – that’s what he said and you have to respect that.”

Arsenal paid a then-club record £56m to sign Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 and he was under contract till 2023, but the club allowed him to leave without a transfer fee.

“It ended up the best possible way for everyone, I think – when things change, and the context changes, this is part of football,” said Arteta.

“What we did yesterday or a month ago is not relevant. You have to make a decision that the best thing to do is let him move on and now he plays for Barcelona.

“We have had different kinds of meetings but it was a decision taken collectively with the club, the player and his agent.”

Asked whether he should accept poor discipline off the field from a striker if they score 25 goals a season, Arteta suggested other players in the dressing room were his barometer on what should or shouldn’t be tolerated.

“I don’t think I am too hard [on disciplinary matters],” he added. “I don’t know the perception externally, but there’s a line you cannot cross and if somebody is going to cross it because he’s scored 25 or 30 goals, then it’s the dressing room that has to accept it.

“First of all you have to score 25 or 30 goals, or 40 or 50, and maybe [the rest of the squad] will say ‘don’t train, just train once a week and you play’. They will decide. If they are happy with that then, with me, there is no problem.”

Aubameyang scored 10 league goals in his debut 2017/18 season at Arsenal after arriving in the January window. In his first full season he netted 22 and then the same the following year, but hit just 10 last season and four in the first half of this one.

Arsenal did not sign a replacement in the January transfer window, missing out on their main target Dusan Vlahovic. The club’s lack of signings prompted some disquiet from sections of the fanbase.

But Arteta was bullish in his appraisal of where the club is heading and its ability to attract top players.

He met with owner Stan Kroenke in Denver during the Premier League winter break and said the American businessman is “completely aligned” with the vision, and summer recruitment plans, of director of football Edu and himself.

“Everyone wants to play for Arsenal,” added Arteta. “I haven’t had one time on the phone with a player who doesn’t want to play for Arsenal.

“Towards the end of summer we have four or five players that are finishing their contracts. It takes a while to rebuild a squad, it doesn’t happen in one or two windows, but we are on the right path.”


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