Auba leaves AFCON duty amid post-Covid health concerns

Jason Soutar
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang applauds the fans

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ended his African Cup of Nations early due to health problems following his bout with Covid-19.

The Gabon captain contracted the virus before the biennial continental competition kicked off.

His self-isolation period ended before the Panthers’ second group match against Ghana, but Aubameyang was not included after examinations discovered a heart problem.

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The Arsenal striker will now return to north London where further tests will be able to take place.

Gabon boss Patrice Neveu told Goal: “Since yesterday, the decision was taken to send them (Aubameyang and Mario Lemina) home to their club.

“We can’t judge it here [in Cameroon], we can’t assess the pathology of Covid here.

“It’s important that Mario returns to Nice and Pierre returns to Arsenal,” he added. “It’s a decision that we’ve taken among ourselves.”

Following his omission from Gabon’s squad for Friday’s match against Ghana, Arsenal reached out to the 32-year-old and feel ‘confident’ that his condition is ‘not serious’, as per The Athletic.

Aubameyang’s national team woes add to a difficult period in the player’s career.

He was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy last month following a disciplinary breach and has not featured for the Premier League side since.

His last appearance for the Gunners came in the 2-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on December 6.

Meanwhile, Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo is ‘pushing’ for a January loan move to Arsenal, according to reports.

The Brazil international has been heavily linked with the Gunners as Mikel Arteta looks to bolster his midfield options.

Arteta’s only midfielder available to him for Sunday’s postponed north London derby was 22-year-old summer signing Albert Sambi Lokonga.

Calciomercato (via the Daily Star) claim that the 25-year-old is ‘pushing’ to leave due to his lack of game time under Max Allegri this season.

Despite uncertainty over a potential replacement, with Aaron Ramsey also set to leave in January, Arthur is putting ‘strong pressure’ on the Italian giants to get the deal done.

The overall feeling is that the midfielder will join Arsenal on loan this month, with an option to buy unlikely to be included in the deal.