Where is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s best position? By this point it’s a question that has been asked to death.
Some believe his predatory goalscoring instincts are best suited to the number nine role, while others believe his pace in behind make him more of a fit on the left wing. For a bizarre 20-minute period against West Ham last season, Mikel Arteta even seemed to think the 32-year-old was at his strongest on the right.
While that experiment has thankfully been consigned to the past, three-and-a-half years into his Arsenal career there is still no definitive answer as to where Aubameyang is at his best on the pitch.
With the Gunners’ recent transfer activity though, there is a real possibility that he might find himself off it all together.
football.london understands the Gunners have made an unsuccessful attempt to seal a player plus cash deal for the former while the latter could be available if Chelsea’s move for Romelu Lukaku falls through given Inter’s financial struggles.
While there is no doubting that both would be fantastic signings for Arsenal that would put out a real signal of intent for their ambitions of getting into the top four this season, questions do have to be asked as to how exactly they would all fit into the team.
Martinez is a centre forward who possesses the ability to drop deep to link play, the energy to lead the press and the mobility to get forward into the opposition box to get on the end of crosses in transition. On top of that he has the added bonus of being excellent in the air his relatively lowly 5ft 8ins stature.
It’s easy to see why Arteta is attracted to the Argentinian who ticks almost every box of the kind of striker he would like to build his team around.
Aubameyang meanwhile, despite being an excellent finisher with plenty to offer to the team, does not have all of these skills.
It is interesting then to consider, that except for in their most friendly against Chelsea on Sunday, the 31-year-old has played almost exclusively as a centre forward since returning from his bout of malaria in late April.
That would perhaps suggest that Arteta is not happy with what Aubameyang is offering him as number nine, and that he instead views the Gabonese forward as being more effective on the left wing. This would correlate with the Spaniard’s previous comments on his captain who he has previously referred to as being in his “natural position” on the flank.
So then surely that’s problem solved and we finally have the answer to where Aubameyang’s best position is in the eyes of Mikel Arteta? Well not quite…
In a tricky season last time out, the 32-year-old’s most consistent flurry of goals came when he was playing as a number nine in front of a supporting trident of Bukayo Saka on the right, Martin Odegaard at number 10 and Emile Smith Rowe on the left.
Of those three the only one not currently at the club is Odegaard after he returned to Real Madrid at the end of loan spell, and while football.london understands that Arsenal would like to re-sign the Norwegian if possible, it’s interesting to think what might happen to Aubameyang if they opt for Maddison instead.
If the Gunners were to spend the £60-70 million that it is understood will be necessary to acquire the England international you assume he would be coming in to start most games, but having recently tied Emile Smith Rowe down to a long-term contract and handed him the number 10 shirt, you would expect the Hale Ender to be starting most weeks.
The only way to get both in the side while also playing last year’s player of the season Saka, would be to have Smith Rowe on the left, with Maddison taking over the central role previously filled by Odegaard.
With Martinez in the side as the centre forward it begs the question, where exactly does Aubameyang fit?
Of course there are plenty of games throughout the course of a season, and different combinations can be tried to unlock different opposition defences, but as the club captain it would be slightly concerning to think that the 32-year-old is not necessarily guaranteed a starting place in Arsenal’s best XI.
The transfer window is in full swing and things are beginning to ramp up with Edu and Mikel Arteta’s dealings at the Emirates.
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There’s plenty that needs to be done for either the Maddison or Martinez transfers to go ahead.
The Gunners are looking like they will have to find a lot of money to able to convince Leicester to sell, while Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah will probably have to leave the club first before they consider a trying to coax Inter Milan into parting with their striker. To get both done in the same window would be very impressive.
But the fact that Arsenal are showing interest in both players raises plenty of questions about how integral their captain and best paid player really is to their plans for the coming season.