Mikel Arteta insists that he was “the solution, not the problem” following Arsenal’s decision to terminate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s in January.
Dropped from the side in December due to a disciplinary breach, the 32-year-old was effectively paid to leave the Gunners before putting pen-to-paper on a transfer deadline day deal with Barcelona.
Facing the media for the first time in 18 days, the subject of Aubameyang’s departure was high on the agenda. First of all, the boss was asked whether he was disappointed with how the situation played out.
He said: “I’m extremely grateful for what Auba has done at the club, for his contribution since I’ve been here and the way I see myself in that relationship, is [as] the solution not the problem.”
Asked to expand on what the problem was, he continued: “What I’m saying is that I’ve been the solution, 100 per cent. I can look in the eye of anybody [and say that].
“Wrong? I do a lot of things wrong, for sure. But the intention all the time is the best for the club and the team.”
Arteta was also pressed on when the decision was made given the player was effectively exiled for seven weeks before his exit was confirmed and whether the resolution ended up suiting all parties.
“It ended up the best possible way for everybody when things changed and the context changed. This is part of football, what we did yesterday or a month ago, is not relevant. It’s what we do today and what we’re going to be able to do in the future.
“You have to make decisions, we all made the decision that the best thing to do was to move on and now he plays for Barca.”
The boss added: “We have had different kinds of meetings and it’s a decision that we obviously take collectively, with the club, with the player, with the agent.”
At his unveiling at Barcelona, Aubameyang hinted that his departure was solely down to Arteta and there weren’t issues elsewhere or with others.
“It’s his opinion, that’s his opinion, that’s what he said, you have to respect that,” said Arteta.
Arsenal’s main focus is finding an internal solution to the vacuum left by Aubameyang. The club opted not to buy a replacement in January heaping pressure on Alex Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah to come up with the goals needed to ensure European qualification. Arteta is confident his existing squad can do the job:
“Auba’s trajectory at the club and the importance of his goals is unquestionable,” he said, “but we have other players and other qualities in different ways to try to to accomplish the amount of goals we need in the team and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”