'We have to be very grateful' – Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Mikel Arteta, Head Coach of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on August 5, 2022 in London, United Kingdom
(Image credit: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has spoken about the decision to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the club captaincy back in December, amid speculation linking the striker with a move to Chelsea.

After reportedly returning late from a trip abroad just before last Christmas, Aubameyang was dropped and never featured for the Gunners again; the Gabon star left by mutual consent and joined Barcelona in February.

And as the first episodes of the 'All or Nothing: Arsenal' documentary series land on Amazon Prime, Arteta has been reflecting on the circumstances which precipitated Aubameyang's Emirates exit.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Barcelona during the warm-up before the Joan Gamper Trophy, friendly presentation match between FC Barcelona and Pumas UNAM at Spotify Camp Nou on August 7, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain

(Image credit: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Arsenal's first home game of the new season, Arteta said:

"What has been done has always been done to defend our club and put the club in the best possible position...

"[Aubameyang] is an exceptional player. He did so much for us; he was our captain and I think we have to be grateful – very grateful – as well for what he did for this club."

When asked if he thought the 33-year-old would enjoy a positive reception should he come back to the Emirates as an opposition player, Arteta replied:

"I hope he does because I think he deserves that. There are moments in life; there are moments in your career [when] sometimes the trajectory or the objective of each individual is different to the club's, and you have to respect that."

ESPN reported last week that Chelsea were in discussions with Barcelona over a potential deal for Aubameyang, and head coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Friday that that the Blues – who have already spent a combined £135.5m to sign Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella this summer – are keen to strengthen further before the 1 September transfer deadline.

Tuchel coached Aubameyang for two seasons at Borussia Dortmund, who Aubameyang left to join Arsenal in January 2018.

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