Pep Guardiola proved right about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who could never replace Sergio Aguero – Dominic Farrell

Any striker on the market with elite credentials is always likely to be linked to Manchester City. It kind of comes with the territory of deciding not to have one.

Something else Pep Guardiola elected he could do without, long before last summer’s Harry Kane saga and the perfunctory search for an alternative ( apparently there was some ageing Portuguese bloke going cheap? ), were the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The headaches endured by his old number two Mikel Arteta over recent days show that was absolutely the right decision.

Aubameyang will not be considered for Arsenal’s Premier League game against West Ham on Wednesday and has been stripped of the club captaincy “ following his latest disciplinary breach ” last week.

Arteta unflinchingly addressed a “painful” issue head-on in his pre-match news conference, where some Guardiolaesque evasiveness might have done the trick.

Asked whether the 32-year-old forward would be considered for sale in January, Arteta replied: “I can say right now that we have made this decision.

“Unfortunately, it’s a really tough one and, obviously, if I had to choose I would not like to be sitting here talking about it but we had to do it.

“But for now, he is not involved in the squad.”

Mikel Arteta admits Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fallout is painful considering previous relationship. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Mikel Arteta admits Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fallout is painful considering previous relationship

‘Hi, it’s Txiki… yeah, I’m really sorry’

It was hardly a resounding hands-off warning and given the vacancy in the City squad for a specialist striker, plenty will put 2+2 together and make a new number nine.

However, we’ve been here before.

When Aubameyang was in his Bundesliga pomp, he was heavily linked with a move to City as Guardiola sought to overhaul the inheritance left to him by Manuel Pellegrini.

According to The Athletic, City had a deal in place to sign Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, only for Guardiola to pull the plug amid concerns over the player’s purported lack of professionalism. Txiki Begiristain even apologised to Aubameyang before City went in another direction.

Manchester City Training, Etihad Stadium, Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak came to watch the Manchester City players in training today at the Etihad Stadium Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Manchester City Chairman Khaldoo Al Murarak and Manchester City sporting director Txiki Begiristain during training. (Photo by Victoria Haydn/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Pep Guardiola works closely with the Man City hierarchy on transfer deals

That report was published in June 2020, a month before Aubameyang scored both goals in an FA Cup semi-final win over City at Wembley and the Arteta era appeared to be hitting its stride.

In September, his long-awaited bumper new contract arrived – a moment of personal triumph for Arteta, or so it seemed, having invested much of his time in persuading Arsenal’s star forward his future lay in north London.

Aubameyang has undoubtedly proved himself to be the sort of elite goal-getter City lack. In his final two Bundesliga seasons at Dortmund, he scored 25 and 31, following that with 22 in each of his first two full campaigns at Arsenal.

An expensive mistake

But since putting pen to paper on a contract apparently worth £350,000-per-week until June 2024, Aubameyang has scored an entirely unremarkable 13 times in 42 Premier League outings.

Think back to his derisory efforts in Arsenal’s 5-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium. It felt like he moved with more purpose when his number was raised by the fourth official in the 59th minute than he had at any other point of the afternoon.

Still, a bargain stop-gap signing will be viewed as a good idea by some City fans, even if the club seldom does such business.

But think about who he’d be replacing. In this week more than all others, that’s important.

Reports in Spain suggest Sergio Aguero will announce his retirement on Wednesday in what is sure to be an emotional occasion in Barcelona.

Sergio Aguero bowed out at Manchester City this summer

A different class

Aguero didn’t just score heavily for a couple of seasons here and there before his interest wavered. He came back time after time for a decade, breaking records and becoming CIty’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Aubameyang said he wanted to become an Arsenal legend when he signed his new deal; Aguero simply got on with the job and became a City legend.

Of course, Guardiola considering a move for Aubameyang earlier in his City reign would probably have spelt bad news for Sergio as he struggled with his new manager’s demands.

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Instead of not turning up on time, Aguero went about remodelling his game and arguably produced his very best in the treble-winning 2018/19 season.

His incredible qualities and achievements are precisely why City have agonised over acquiring a worthy replacement. Even as a short-term fix, Aubameyang simply does not measure up.

Do you think Aubameyang is worth a January punt for City? Follow our City Is Ours editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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