Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a name that is synonymous with Arsenal. Having represented European giants such as AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund, the Gabonese striker arrived at the Emirates Stadium in 2018 and has made it his home, smashing 73 goals in 117 appearances.
The 31-year-old is the fastest to score 50 goals for the Gunners in the Premier League era, reaching the feat in four games fewer than the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, Thierry Henry.
Aubameyang, having won the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2018-19 season, continued his fine run last term to finish on 22 goals, just one short of Jamie Vardy’s tally. Aubameyang then led Arsenal to a season-ending FA Cup title.
However, there was a constant worry among the Arsenal faithful: Will he extend his contract? Aubameyang had one year left, and manager Mikel Arteta had publicly admitted to losing sleep over his star striker’s future at the club. The drama went on for weeks as the rumour mill went berserk. The speculation was finally put to bed on September 15 when Aubameyang signed a fresh three-year deal that would keep him at the club until 2024 and reportedly make him one of the highest earners at the club alongside midfielder Mesut Ozil.
Talking about his new contract, Aubameyang says, “I think it comes from the fans. They asked me every day for a few months now and, yeah, finally I have signed the team and I’m so happy.”
Professional footballers are bound to get attention. Most are even immune to it. But Aubameyang, despite being one of the most popular footballers in the globe, is still rather shy. And he had to overcome that barrier when he was live on Instagram to announce his new contract. “I don’t know... I was, like, shy. I am a really shy guy and when I see lots of people like this, watching me... It’s different from when you are playing football, you know? I was a bit nervous, but then I felt comfortable and I started to speak with (former Arsenal striker and now football commentator Ian) Wright, and Laca (Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette) came in as well, so I was more relaxed and more chill.”
Aubameyang has played under three managers at Arsenal — the legendary Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and now Arteta, who took over the club in December following Emery’s sacking. Arteta, a former Arsenal captain, came on board for his first managerial role after assisting Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and led the club to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League and a spot in the Europa League.
Aubameyang feels there is a more relaxed atmosphere at the club since Arteta joined. “Since he’s come, he has brought about an atmosphere where everyone feels like home. The mentality around the club is going very well and everyone is going in the same direction, and that’s very important. Also, everyone is keen to bring the club back to where it belongs.”
Arteta managed to win silverware in his debut season as Arsenal beat Chelsea for a record 14th FA Cup title. Aubameyang was the architect as he shone with a match-winning brace, but he nearly dropped the trophy after!
“I didn’t know... I remember one guy from the FA was behind me and he was wearing a mask. I asked him if I should take everything and he said, ‘No, just leave the base.’ I understood it as ‘take the base’ and I took everything and it was heavy and the rest... Yeah!”
Aubameyang has gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start this season, scoring just one goal so far. But with the recent addition of Willian and Lacazette, it will be a matter of time before the Gabonese star is back on the goalscoring charts.
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