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What wage is too much?

If Arsenal want to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this summer, they will have to re-sign him to a new contract. But how much is too much for the club’s top goalscorer?

At the end of the season, Arsenal centre-forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will have just one year to run on his contract. Sadly, the club has been here before. And, typically, they have made the wrong decision and got themselves in trouble, one way or another.

Whether it was selling Robin van Persie to a direct rival, letting Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil enter the final year of their contracts and then agreeing to rushed transfers and contracts that the club had no power when negotiating over, or allowing Aaron Ramsey to leave for nothing at the end of his deal and then needing to replace him with no cash to do so, the club has made mistake after mistake when handling the final year or two of their stars’ contracts.

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So when it comes to handling the future of Aubameyang, and the future of the front three as an extension, given Aubameyang’s immense importance to the attacking set-up of the team, will they have learned their mistakes or will they once again fall into the trap of making a poor sale, allowing him to leave for nothing, or tying themselves down to a crippling contract that undermines the rest of the squad?

It is this last concern that is currently the most dangerous. According to the Daily Express, Aubameyang is demanding a bumper new £300,000-per-week wage. The Gabonese is currently around £200,000 per week, which is already the second-highest salary in the squad behind Ozil, who is a painful illustration of what goes wrong when you sign an ageing player to a contract they cannot live up to. It would represent an approximately 33% increase.

Based on his performances alone, Aubameyang certainly deserves it. He has been Arsenal’s best player this season by some distance. He is the club captain, has developed a terrific relationship with the supporters, and will be the top goalscorer for the second season running, as well as being close to winning the Premier League Golden Boot for the two successive seasons. But there is more that must be considered here.

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Chief among the concerns is his age. Aubameyang will be 31 this summer. Even if he signs just a two-year contract at £300,000 per week, there is no guarantee that he can play at the same level in two years. And on a two-year deal, Arsenal would be in the exact situation they are in currently in a years time. But signing a three-year deal commits them to Aubameyang until he turns 34. That is treacherous.

So, how much is too much? At what wage demands do Arsenal simply have to say ‘no, thank you’. Is there a limit? For some, Aubameyang might not be worth his current wage given the concerns regarding his depreciating athleticism. For others, he might be worth whatever he demands and the club should suck it up.

Next: Arsenal: Top 5 must-sell players this summer

Ultimately, the decision is an impossible one to make. You are attempting to predict the physical depreciation of a superstar. Nevertheless, that is the situation Arsenal find themselves in, and they only have themselves to blame.

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