Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals have been key to Arsenal in recent times – but head coach Unai Emery has also praised his influence off the pitch.
The Gabon striker has scored 49 goals in 74 Arsenal appearances since joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
He will be hoping to reach half a century in Sunday’s Premier League visit of Bournemouth to secure the victory that will keep the Gunners in the top four, having featured in all but one of Arsenal’s fixtures so far this season.
Aubameyang was named as Arsenal’s vice-captain after a blind vote by the squad and sported the armband for the first time in the recent win over Aston Villa – where he scored the winning goal with a late free-kick.
Beating the likes of David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Hector Bellerin to the role may have surprised people outside of the club, but Emery revealed Aubameyang is a prominent member of his squad.
“He is an experienced player now,” he said of the 30-year-old.
“He played in France, Germany and now in England at a high level and with a high performance.
“His experience is good, his team-mates decided with the vote that they wanted him as vice-captain.
“I am usually speaking with him and now he is more confident and more mature in the Premier League compared to when I arrived last year, he came only six months before me.
“He scored a lot of goals last year but has now also taken a big responsibility within the team and he is one of the captains who can manage in the dressing room.
“I will speak with him in my office, the hotel or the dressing room. First we built a human connection and then as a player and then I know I can ask him what I want and what the team needs – he always listens and will always give his best to provide that.
“He will play all minutes, some minutes, all games if we ask that of him and he is always ready to play again – this is also showing his leadership qualities.”
Like any forward, goals are the main part of Aubameyang’s individual game but Emery pointed to the Villa win – where he allowed team-mate Nicolas Pepe to take a penalty for his first goal for the club – as a fine example of his approach.
“I told him when he decided against Aston Villa when we were losing to give the penalty to Pepe for his confidence, it was an amazing decision,” added Emery.
“It showed him as a big player with big responsibility in this team, a captain of this team. He gave that responsibility to Pepe and in that moment it was a great moment between two big players – a very good connection.
“In the the dressing room and in the matches, that connection with Pepe, also with (Alexandre) Lacazette, it means Aubameyang is important to make these positive connections.”