Arsenal icon Charlie Nicholas believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wouldn’t hesitate to leave if Real Madrid or Barcelona made an approach this summer, with a new contract yet to be signed. The Gabon international has dropped several hints in recent weeks that he wants to stay at the Emirates.
Despite that, no contract extension has been signed as Arsenal head into the FA Cup final against Chelsea.
Having finished eighth in the Premier League table, Arsenal have to beat Chelsea in order to secure Europa League football next season.
Aubameyang is widely regarded as one of Europe’s elite strikers and, despite recently turning 31, he will likely want to be competing in one of Europe’s main competitions.
Mikel Arteta has remained relatively calm about Aubameyang’s situation though, and suggested even if Arsenal lose the FA Cup final that he believes the striker could still sign an extension.
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Reports have suggested Aubameyang is holding out for a huge pay rise to stay at Arsenal and Nicholas believes he will be worth every penny.
However, the Sky Sports pundit wants to see Arsenal quickly shift their focus to improving their defence in the transfer window.
“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,” Nicholas told Sky Sports.
“We had to let the best I’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt – Thierry Henry – go because he wanted to join Barca.
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“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.”
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