After another tremendous victory, Arsenal should be thinking long and hard about who stays and who goes. For Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the question is simple.
Arsenal‘s resounding win over Manchester City may have changed some of the conversation about who should and shouldn’t be sold. I wrote an article reassessing the list of “must-sells,” of which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was once a part of.
Over the past few weeks, Aubameyang is obviously not a must-sell any more, but for some, he’s still on the “could sell” list, depending on where the Gunners finish out the season. Whether that’s with the financial boon of European competition, or mired in midtable, where Aubameyang wouldn’t want to be.
The contract is not yet signed between Aubameyang and Arsenal, though both sides admit to wanting to stay. The hang-up, according to numerous reports, is the length of the deal. Aubameyang wants three years, the Gunners just want two.
That doesn’t seem like too big of an impasse but in the event that it proves to be just that and the club moves to sell, there is only one question they need to ask themselves:
Where do the goals come from?
Aubameyang has 20 goals on the season. And that’s just in the Premier League. If you take their next three highest goal scorers, they reach that same tally—20. Those next three being Alexandre Lacazette (10), Nicolas Pepe (5), Gabriel Martinelli (3), and several people tied at two.
Aubameyang is a goal machine on a club that has no immediate replacement for that. There is tremendous optimism that Gabriel Martinelli could be a goal machine. He already looks like one. But asking him to account for 20+ goals in his second year? That’s tough.
We know Lacazette can’t do it. We’ve given him the chance. And he’s more likely to be sold than Aubameyang anyway.
Bukayo Saka is more of a deliverer than he is a finisher. Eddie Nketiah could grow into it, but he’s not quite there yet.
Nicolas Pepe is our best shot. Aubameyang made a killing coming in off the left wing and Pepe could do the same off the right. His numbers show that he has what it takes to, if not score, then at least account for 20+ goals.
But a direct replacement? It doesn’t exist. Even if we go and purchase Odsonne Edouard or Luka Jovic, they aren’t going to replicate the goals that Aubameyang scores.
The best option, therefore, is not to replace, but to form a collective of goal scorers that could, in combination, match Aubameyang’s tally. If you put Martinelli, Pepe, Saka, and either Jovic or Edouard in the side, I feel pretty decent that goals will flow. That said… it’s a lot easier if you include Aubameyang.