Aubameyang ‘made to train alone’ after squad exclusion

Jason Soutar
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang applauds the fans

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is training alone and unlikely to return to the first-team set-up until after the Africa Cup of Nations, according to reports.

Aubameyang will represent Gabon at the continental competition next month, with his earliest possible exit being on January 20 when the group stage is concluded.

The 32-year-old was stripped of the Gunners captaincy following a disciplinary breach and missed Wednesday’s win over West Ham as a result.

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Manager Mikel Arteta has also confirmed the striker will miss the clash against Leeds on Saturday.

Aubameyang is said to be cooperating with the club’s demands. He was initially told to train at home before returning to London Colney in recent days, per The Athletic.

Arteta has not confirmed who will replace the ex-Borussia Dortmund man as captain, opting for a “leadership group” which includes former skipper Granit Xhaka.

Alexandre Lacazette has captained Arsenal in their previous two matches against Southampton and West Ham.

Meanwhile, Arteta has praised Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard, who has been touted as a potential future captain.

“He’s very young but he already has a lot of experience. He’s getting close to his best level. We’ve got a tremendous player there. He’s a natural leader. If you look for the perfect professional you don’t have to look much further than him.”

The Spaniard also provided an update on Nicolas Pepe, who has seen his game time be significantly reduced in recent weeks.

“It’s with all the players that they are not having a lot of minutes. With the amount of games we’re having there’s not enough room. With Nico’s situation it’s something similar. He needs more opportunities to show what he can do and in the last games he hasn’t had them.”

Elsewhere, ex-Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole thinks Man Utd will finish higher than Arsenal in the Premier League this season.

Cole said on BT Sport: “There’s so much to be positive about the goalkeeper is outstanding. Gabriel and White have got it together, they’ve really nailed it.

“If you ask me I think it’s going to be between Manchester United, Tottenham, West Ham and Arsenal.

“I’d probably just go with United because of the Ronaldo factor because he’s such a genius and he guarantees you goals. He always turns up.”