That Arsenal ultimately buckled to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s demands, signing the 31-year-old to a new three-year contract worth a reported £350,000-a-week in September, proved just how integral he is to Mikel Arteta’s side.
After all, this is a player who has been the Gunners’ top scorer since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in January 2017. Aubameyang is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, attackers in the Premier League at this moment in time. Arsenal simply couldn’t afford to let him leave. A new £350,000-a-week contract was worth it to keep him around.
And yet despite all this, Aubameyang consistently finds himself played out of position. While he might be a centre-forward by trade, the Gabonese attacker is predominantly played off the left flank. Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta have all seen Aubameyang for what he can offer from the wing (although Wenger was more open to the idea of Aubameyang as a centre-forward).
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Aubameyang’s numbers suggest he is extremely effective out there, with the 31-year-old netting 74 times in 118 games in all competitions for the Gunners. But it has long been pondered if he might be even more effective through the middle as an out-and-out centre-forward, the role he rose to prominence in at Dortmund.
The argument for playing Aubameyang in a wider position is that he can more easily slip between defensive lines. Starting from the left gives him a better angle to take on opponents and get a shot away from in and around the penalty box.
The wide forward is a role which has grown in prominence in recent years, with Sadio Mane, Lionel Messi, Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling all making the position work for them.
Indeed, more is now expected of wide men at the…