Aubameyang – The Face of The ‘New Arsenal’ by Dan Smith

My brother supports Man United. He rang me last night not understanding why gooners are so giddy about the news that Aubameyang has extended his contract.

Like anything, to comment you need to walk in our shoes.

Where a Man City or Chelsea take for granted their best players signing new deals, us Gunners don’t have that luxury. Aubameyang really is the exception to the rule.

Not just as a fanbase have we got used to world class players leaving, but it’s become the norm for them to end up at one of our top 6 rivals. And make no mistake, Aubameyang is world class. There is not a team in this country he could not get into.

Negotiations were not perfect. We yet again gave a player and his agent a lot of leverage by allowing a contract to run down to it’s final year. In reality, it meant we had to pay over the odds for someone in his thirties who won’t have much resale value.

As much as it’s nice to hear him refer to The New Arsenal as his family, give me 250,000 pound a week, I would also say whatever you want me to say about your brand.

In that sense maybe the Pandemic helped us. Assessing his options, suddenly few teams were able to match the wages we were prepared to pay.

Football is a business where if you stand still, you get left behind. Keeping our top scorer was something Arsenal just had to take a hit on for the benefit of the team. To be fair we haven’t always done that so this is progress that those in power realised we couldn’t yet again prioritise value over a footballing decision.

Not just would it have been a PR disaster to see Auba go to Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford on the cheap, it would have been a hammer blow to a squad who had just finished 8th. After our worst League position in 25 years, if Stan Kroenke is unwilling or unable to invest in a recruitment overhaul, then he knew the bare minimum was securing the services of the Gabon International.

Even from a pure business point of view, our owner makes more money if the New Arsenal are in the Champions League and winning trophies. Auba’s goals are a key factor in doing that as he’s proved recently at Wembley.

There would also be an awareness that the likes of Adidas would be less reluctant to pay big bucks if suddenly big names were not advertising their merchandise. Auba already has an incredible social media following which will only intensify now he has committed his future to North London.

From day one he’s been respected at the Emirates but it’s now he has a chance to become the legend he says he wants to become. Not just will our fans be grateful for him staying when we really needed help, but this can now be his Arsenal.

In Arsenal’s excellent video confirming the news, Auba referred to the likes of Henry, Adams and Bergkamp who each didn’t just win things but formed a legacy. In that sense winning one title in three years with us would make him a legend in the game more than say winning loads at the Etihad.
That’s the special place Auba is at right now. So many foreigners moved to England and brought into Arsenal’s history, becoming immersed in our ethos and principles.

That’s what Auba could become. Not just a great player for Arsenal but the face of the New Arsenal. In many ways he has from day one. Straight away it was evident that he had a bromance with Lacazette and was popular with a young dressing room.

He in many ways is the modern-day sportsman, interacting with supporters on social media. That’s why I don’t agree with the cynics who suggest he’s just saying what we want to hear. Anyone who’s observed him off the pitch would find it hard to think he’s that type of person.

Yes, of course he and his father made sure he got paid a hell of a lot of money to sign on the dotted line, yet it is possible to be rich and still be a genuinely nice person. This is a man who loves comic books and superheroes. I watched him attend a wrestling event and he properly marked out when meeting wrestlers backstage.

When one WWE star presented him with his own replica belt, he said this was a dream come true as he was a lifelong fan. Just think about that…

Here is someone probably richer then those he was meeting. Who could afford to buy as many belts as he wants? Yet in that moment he was in awe, like a big kid. It’s that geekiness that makes him relatable. It’s cool to know that even when you have lots of money in the bank, you don’t necessarily turn your back on your comforts, you don’t forget who you are.

We have had some great talent at our club bit I don’t remember many who after only being around for three years would refer to ‘Wrighty’, showing he’s taken time away from training to immerse himself into what our badge means.

You have to give Arteta credit as well, as I don’t think this decision would have been reached had Unai Emery still been in charge.

That’s not to be disrespectful to our former manager but when Auba’s no longer smiling, you know things are not right off the field. If there was one criticism of Auba last year, it was that he wasn’t the captain we needed him to be in the dark days of December. When the likes of Saka and Willock needed some leadership, his body language was often poor.

His current boss has since admitted he wasn’t sure if he could convince Auba to tactically do what he wanted. Pre- Arteta, Auba would often have a quiet game before popping up in the area and scoring (don’t get me wrong, there are worse flaws to have) yet the new regime wanted more from their forward. They wanted him to defend from the front, to press, to time his runs from the left. The fact he’s done that to perfection shows the man-management of Arteta.

So to pay tribute to our skipper, I made a little video of in my opinion his best goals so far. I thought for a couple of obvious reasons that 14 would be an appropriate total.

So Aubameyang is here to stay.

Yes, he will score more goals.

He might even win more medals.

But he now becomes the face of the New Arsenal ……….A chance to live forever.

I said to my brother…… At Man United ….. greats become heroes …. but at Arsenal …. heroes become legends.

Enjoy my video


This article first appeared on Just Arsenal and was syndicated with permission.

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