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What price does keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang make sense?

Arsenal have reportedly pulled out of talks with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyamg. But at what price does keeping the centre-forward make sense?

The future of Arsenal centre-forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is very much up in the air. At this stage, no one knows what will happen with several moving parts all needing to fit together simultaneously. Add in the explosive catalyst of the coronavirus which has accelerated any problems clubs might have been previously suffering from and you have a clear recipe for disaster.

Mikel Arteta said he wanted to keep his top goalscorer, admitting that talks would be shelved for a quieter period of the season but protesting that the club must do everything they can to keep him. In Arteta’s eyes, Aubameyang is vital. Letting him leave is not an option.

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But according to The Express, Arsenal have pulled out of negotiations with their star striker amid interest from Inter Milan. Antonio Conte is said to be extremely keen to bring the near 31-year-old to the club.

There are plenty of reasons in favour of offloading Aubameyang this summer, and an increasing number of supporters are in favour of cashing in. He will be 31 in June. Arteta is leading a rebuild at the club and, while he protests his desire to keep Aubameyang, in reality, the striker will not play a key role in the long-term project that is being undertaken.

He also has just a year remaining on his contract. Should Arsenal keep him, they would have to tie him down to a new deal or risk losing him for nothing next summer. Aubameyang is reportedly requesting a substantial and deserved pay bump on his already stretching £200,000-per-week wages. After the Gunners suffered when agreeing to Mesut Ozil’s extortionate pay demands in the final months of his contract, they might be tentative to do so again with a player entering the latter stages of their prime.

However, the primary positive in selling Aubameyang is price. If he was worth £10 million, no one would be calling for a sale. The money recouped from offloading does not deem it worthwhile. And so, at some point, there will be a meeting point between a price worth selling for and a price worth keeping. But what is that price?

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The reported fees at present peg an Aubameyang sale in the £50 million range. Given Arsenal spent around £56 million, anything that recoups the majority of their initial investment is a worthy sale. That £50 million would fund a move for Thomas Partey, for instance, which would represent an immediate upgrade on the overall team given the greater balance of resources.

However, in the current climate and the financial pressures that clubs are under, as well as increasing awareness in the transfer window, with teams veering away from major investments in older players, it might be difficult for Arsenal to drum up interest in a £50 million 31-year-old who will be available for nothing in a year. If the price slips to £40 million or £30 million, suddenly a sale looks far less appealing.

Next: Arsenal: 3 reasons Gunners should keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Ultimately, if Aubameyang fetches £50 million, selling is the right move. But with young players ready to step up and his goal threat difficult to replace, if £30 or £35 million is the maximum offer, Arsenal would be better off playing out his final year.

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