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Keeping Aubameyang could pay off for Arsenal

Contrast between staff redundancies and a lucrative new deal for striker might seem like vulgar hypocrisy – but a mid-table future could bring further uncertainty

13 August, 2020 — By Richard Osley

FOR many years, a great irony existed in the way the world looked at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger was lauded for putting together competitive teams without breaking out giant cheques or abandoning a wage structure.

When Arsenal fans were considered ungrateful, they were reminded of all the wonderful magic tricks he had been able to perform without the aid of financial doping.

And yet at the same time, the pundits on the television, the sports writers and fans of rival clubs then criticised Arsenal when things went wrong.

WHY AREN’T YOU BETTER?, they asked. How have you gone from the Invincibles to a team struggling to qualify for the Champions League?

Wenger, like a man squeezing every last bit out of a toothpaste tube, largely hung onto the principles of paying your way, being sensible over debt and spending what you can afford. Trouble was, he came across opponents who had enough money to break the charts, spend like billionaires on a year-long stag do in Vegas and keep on doing so until a winning line came up.
Arsenal were ridiculed for not being able to compete.

Last week, the club announced 55 staff redundancies and it was heart-warming to see Gunners fans instantly calling for them to be reversed, even without really knowing who they are or what they do.

If any of us are going to survive this virus crisis, it will be by not accepting as a given that people have to lose their jobs when other measures can be taken first. Let’s hope the decision is reversed, because it looks wonky.

And it just salts the frustration of being locked into a £350,000-a-week contract with Mesut Ozil, compounded further by the fact that he played no part in Arsenal’s end-of-season flourish. The minute Wenger was pressured into paying more, he made the mistake of chucking it all at a World Cup winner with fading motivation.

The instant contrast between redundancies and a possible pay rise and new deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might also seem like an open and shut case of vulgar hypocrisy.

But anybody who has seen how the last few weeks unfolded, should know that Aubameyang is now integral to Arsenal’s prospects of short-term success. Without him, they are still a whisper of a team in development.

It’s fair to imagine Arsenal’s finances are set up to be a Champions League club – their regular qualification was why Wenger was allowed to go on and on. But if Aubameyang, who is asking the going rate for his services, – however out of tune footballers’ wages are to a pandemic-stricken world – then there will be no European football.

And if the club then realigns its budgets and forecasts to being a mid-table team each season, it’s not hard to forecast even more job losses.

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