Arsenal legend Martin Keown doubts Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang “was a bad apple” and doesn’t “understand” Mikel Arteta’s decision to push him out the door.
A number of disciplinary breaches resulted in Arteta removing Aubameyang as captain with his final appearance coming in a defeat to Everton in December last year.
Arteta decided to ostracise the Gabon international before allowing him to leave on a free transfer to Barcelona at the beginning of February.
Former Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos thought it was the “incorrect choice” at the time and now Keown thinks Arteta should’ve kept Aubameyang at the club.
Keown told talkSPORT: “I think he’s done it for those reasons. But in the short term, I think it affected the team, because Arsenal didn’t get enough goals.
“Of course, you have to respect the value of the football club, but I still want to make it into the Champions League ahead of Spurs.
“He was our Harry Kane!”
Keown added: “I think it was a bold decision for the manager and we’re still in that journey to see whether it’s going to work out. Maybe, if you could’ve kept him there until the end of the season, [Gabriel] Jesus has come in now and Aubameyang is history.
“But those goals were a huge miss for Arsenal. They’re still on my mind. I think the player could’ve been forgiven.”
Keown continued: “He made the choice and gave him a second contract. He knew his character. I don’t believe he was a bad apple at all, I just think he’s not a good time-keeper!
“It was too much for the manager and, with that, we lost a lot of goals. We will never know, but those goals were good enough to get Barcelona into the Champions League. It could’ve done the same for Arsenal.
“We hope this is all part of the development of what is proving to be a good manager. But he’s still learning. If he was in the latter stages, would he have got as personal?
“Arsene Wenger would’ve kept him at the club and found a solution to get him on the pitch.
“I don’t understand why he had to leave to football club but Arsenal continued to pay his wages to help Barcelona get into the Champions League.
“Of course, get rid of him at the end of the season, it’s healthy, get Jesus in. But for now, work with him and keep his goals.”