Mikel Arteta urged to make Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang decision for in top four race

Former Arsenal striker Paul Merson believes that the exclusion of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Gunners squad could impact the side’s top four hopes this season, saying the club must sort out the situation once and for all.

Mikel Arteta has got his side into the battle for the elusive final Champions League spot so far, but is yet to see a return to action for the Gabon international.

Aubameyang, 32, was the club captain until a disciplinary breach saw him stripped of the captaincy and he has not been in a first-team squad since.

The forward was meant to be away with his nation at the Africa Cup of Nations, but had to return to London due to medical concerns.

He is yet to make a return to the team, with some reports suggesting the striker could be free to leave the club this month as the end of the January transfer window approaches.

Former player and pundit Paul Merson believes that his exclusion could impact Arteta ‘s hopes of a top four finish.

Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: “You’ve got to get someone in. Arsenal need a centre-forward badly next season.

“No [I can’t see him playing again for Arsenal] not for me. I think Arteta has already laid that one out, he’s chopped his nose off there.

“He’s hung him out there to dry, it’s going to be some going by the lad to come back. It could [impact a potential top four finish].

“[I’m] not saying Aubameyang is going to get them in the top four, though, but they do need a centre-forward.

“Aubameyang on form could get them there. I always think ‘pick your best players’; but what’s gone on between the pair of them, the manager and him needs to be sorted out first.”

Whether the relationship between player and manager can be resolved is yet to be seen, though given Arsenal’s striker woes, it may be necessary in the short-term.

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