Arteta has massive Aubameyang decision to make – Hartson


John Hartson says Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has a huge call to make over whether to keep or sell top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this summer.

Gabon international Aubameyang has scored 20 goals across all competitions this season to again underline his status as one of the best marksmen in world football, but his contract expires at the end of 2020/21 campaign and Hartson admits Arsenal cannot afford to lose their prize asset for nothing.

“It’s happened so many times over the years that they’ve allowed good players to run their contracts down and leave for next to nothing,” he told the PA news agency. “These players are worth a lot of money if they are tied down.

“So there’s a decision to make on Aubameyang because if they are going to sell him his best worth is in the summer with a year left on his contract. It’s a big call for Arteta to make so early in his Arsenal tenure.”

Pointing out previous Arsenal failings in allowing players’ contracts to run down, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both prime examples as the duo left the Emirates on free transfers to join West Ham United and Juventus respectively.

The Gunners, who are back in action on Monday when they travel to Portsmouth for FA Cup fifth-round action, will be keen for that not to happen with Aubameyang and there are reports claiming the club will look to extend the 30-year-old’s contract in the summer.

However, Arsenal’s exit from the Europa League on Thursday at the last-32 stage means Champions League football for next season is unlikely, with the north London outfit sitting ninth in the Premier League, seven points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Hartson. who played for the Gunners from 1995-97, believes the defeat to Olympiakos could have a massive bearing on negotiations with Aubameyang over extending his stay.

“No European football could affect the likes of Aubameyang,” he added. “The best players want to be in the Champions League and he’s a world-class striker.”