It’s hard to imagine quite where Arsenal would be right now without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
With 17 goals the Gunners captain (as he will remain until he suddenly decides to start telling fans to f*ck off, just like his predecessor) finds himself joint leader of the Premier League golden boot race – despite being stationed on the wings of a side that has farcically won just eight of their 27 games.
In total, the Gabon international has hit the back of the net 60 times in his 95 games for the club and it is this form that’s led to Gary Neville stating he should be considered as a Premier League great.
Unsurprisingly it has also sparked the interest of teams in Europe who are able to win more than just eight league games.
“They are completely right to want him because he is a superb player,” explained Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta following Aubameyang’s match-winning performance against Everton. “It’s right that big teams like him. Hopefully, we can convince him this is the right place to be.”
That’s going to be a tricky prospect given their recent woes, and with less than 18 months to run on his current deal the pressure is on the Gunners to get their talisman to commit for a few more years. So to help grease the negotiation wheels, we’ve come up with a few novel suggestions for things the club should do to help sway Aubameyang’s mind…
1. Rename Emirates Stadium after him
Selling the naming rights to the shiny new home they moved into back in 2006 has never truly sat well with Gooners. Fans wanted it named Ashburton Grove after the site it was built on, but money talked and it became known as Emirates Stadium – despite the fact the airline were sponsoring Chelsea when the deal was struck. There’s just no loyalty in modern football, eh?
Inserting a clause into PEA’s new contract that the stadium will be immediately renamed the Aubameyang Arena when he signs would be a certified winner for everyone involved. No player could ever turn down such an honour, Emirates would get a publicity boost and fans would get a free Auba wig to commemorate the stadium’s rebranding. Which brings us on to…
2. Give him the hairline he’s always wanted
Mohawk, frizzy, shaved, patterned, Gervinho-lite… Aubameyang is no stranger to mixing and matching his hairstyles as he sees fit. Although he manages to pull off every look, we can strongly imagine he would love to have a bit more to play with up front. Oh, the irony.
Covering the cost of sending the hair-raisingly fast forward to a Wayne Rooney-approved transplant clinic would surely be a prime working example of the club’s caring nature regarding players’ personal needs, and persuasion enough for Auba to stick around.
3. Build a statue of him
Outside the soon-to-be-renamed Aubameyang Arena, five club legends are currently cast in bronze: Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Ken Friar and Herbert Chapman. On the stadium island there is more than enough room for a sixth, so why not mark Pierre-Emerick’s own impact on the club with his very own statue?
Again, this rare opportunity would play on the striker’s ego and it’s a tactic which marries perfectly with Arsenal fans’ tendency to get carried away with players’ reputations far too quickly.
4. Give him Mesut Ozil’s contract
Star player heading into his final year? Tick. In his 30s? Tick. Worried about the reputational damage if your best player leaves in order to find actual success? Tick! Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang meets all the requirements of Arsenal’s panic bumper contract scheme!
The last time this scenario played out they ended up handing over £350,000 per week to Mesut Ozil. And given the likelihood of the mercurial playmaker moving to the MLS this summer to help expand his range of coffee shops (no, that is not a joke) there should be plenty of freed-up funds to take Auba’s salary to another level. Who’d be mad enough to turn that pay packet down?
5. Make his kid captain of the youth team
Every parent wants the very best for their child. Arsenal can capitalise on this fact of life by putting into writing that Aubameyang’s eight-year-old son, Curtys, will captain their youth teams every season his dad continues to lead the senior team out.
We can already picture the future of Curtys progressing through the ranks to become the Gunners’ next superstar striker, before he too runs down his contract and puts the club over a barrel. Classic Arsenal.
6. Bribe pundits to big him up
Following his performance against Everton, Auba was clearly delighted to hear rave reviews about his place in the pantheon of Premier League greats from legendary Valencia boss Gary Neville:
Is it time for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be considered a Premier League great? @GNev2 has been extremely impressed by the Arsenal man
— Sky Sports MNF (@SkySportsMNF) February 24, 2020
@GNev2 wow After That, i can also say Aubameyang is a premier League Great 😆😆😂 just kidding but thanks appreciate that 🙏🏽
— Aubameyang P-E (@Aubameyang7) February 24, 2020
No man is immune to relentless flattery, so the Gunners would be wise to attach rocket boosters to this bandwagon of praise to keep it rolling on. But this is frugal Arsenal we’re dealing with, so although they could gift all manner of riches and temptations to the punditry elites, they’ll inevitably just ask Ian Wright to do it for free.
7. Sign a proper centre-back
Quite possibly the most challenging method of all: entrusting Arsenal to sign a world-class defender. Top players like Aubameyang want to be in a successful team, something the top-heavy Gunners have been unable to provide him given their reliance on the likes of Shkodran Mustafi.
If Arsenal really want Aubameyang to stay put in north London, they just need to go out and add genuine defensive quality and stability to complement the Gabon striker’s attacking prowess. But given their record in this department over the past decade or so, we won’t hold our breath.
Better get those lawyers to make a start on the stadium name change then, Arsenal…