On Twitter, I asked a simple question: would you sell Aubameyang to buy Ødegaard?
The outcome of this quick poll was clear: yes, definitely.
Basically, we’re ready to give up one of the most prolific goalscorers of the last decade in order to acquire the services of a playmaker, although sublime. I was a bit surprised, because selling Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with no guarantee about a potential replacement is a big choice.
Without a proven goalscorer, there is no point in playing breath-taking football and creating chances, they will all go to waste; if there’s one player who built his entire career on scoring goals consistently, that’s our current captain. Are we ready to give that up?
I might be wrong but the outcome of the poll was heavily influenced by the recent counter-performances displayed by the former Saint-Étienne and Borussia Dortmund forward, who’s been wasteful against Olympiacos and went missing against West Ham. It’s funny because Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has always been quite wasteful during his career and has always been a low-touch kind of striker, yet it seems that lately many of us are less willing to accept his style of play or have set expectations that the Gabonese will never meet.
Also, I feel that the damages done by the handling of Mesut Özil since his new contract are still very present in our minds and the idea of history repeating itself with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is just too scary. The divide, the questions, the anger and the frustration created by the German, paired with the impact on the Club’s financial power, have left some very deep scars and no one wants to experience that again.
So, it’s power to the flair, then!
With Martin Ødegaard, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka on the pitch, the Arsenal looks more and more like a team able to create problems to any opponent, given the different skill-sets of each player: one versus one, ghosting between the lines, anticipating the play, strength, finesse, quick interplay, long-range shooting – we’ve got it all.
That area of the pitch between midfield and attack could well be our main asset, especially if we consider that we also have Nicolas Pépé and Willian available for selection: they’re inconsistent, of course, but they definitely can influence a game when inspired and determined.
Assuming that we sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and make Martin Ødegaard our marquee signing, we’d be stocked with vision, technique and creativity.
There’s still the you-need-to-score-goals-to-win-football-games problem, though: who is going to convert all those chances?
If we take Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang away from the current squad, Mikel Arteta is left with Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli.
That’s not enough, simple.
Alexandre Lacazette has never scored more than 14 league goals, even when he was the main man upfront, and there is no evidence that Eddie Nketiah can replicate his goal scoring prowess at senior level, while Gabriel Martinelli is young and raw, without factoring in his preference to play off the left wing.
Without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals, we are destined to struggle in the top-half of the table even if we manage to create more chances or at least better chances.
The Gabonese forward might not do much beside scoring goals but, at the end of the day, goals are the most important of the “fine margins” that Mikel Arteta keeps banging about.
He might not be the striker we would like to have but he’s most definitely the striker we desperately need to get out of this mid-table mediocrity.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.