Nigel Winterburn has admitted the lengthy delay in Arsenal announcing that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a new contract makes him “very, very nervous” but insists that per his knowledge, a deal is all but done.
Fresh from a 29-goal campaign last term, Aubameyang already has two goals in two games this season after netting his first goal of the new Premier League season in the opening day win at Fulham.
The Gunners romped to a comfortable 3-0 triumph at Craven Cottage over the Championship play-off winners with Aubameyang netting Arsenal’s third, curling beyond Marek Rodak into the top corner.
But despite continuing to produce on the pitch, the 31-year-old’s long-term future at the Emirates is not yet resolved.
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Aubameyang has entered the final 12 months of his contract with the north London club, who are vulnerable to bids for the Gabon international or face losing him for free if they do not get him to sign a new deal.
Fortunately for Arsenal supporters, the frontman is widely expected to sign a three-year, £250,000-a-week extension.
“I’m really positive we are going to get it done very soon and hopefully in the next few days you will get some news,” Arteta told BT Sport after beating Fulham.
That came after the Spanish coach pre-match declared that Arsenal fans can be “pretty relaxed” over the situation, adding: “I can say I’m even more confident that at the end of last season. I’m really optimistic.”
However, there have been few developments over the past month with there seemingly some details that must still be ironed out.
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Ex-left-back Winterburn admits the delay in an official announcement from his former club has made him anxious, but says that he believes an agreement is essentially done – though pen has not yet been put to paper.
“My understanding is that the contract is done, it’s not signed, and that Aubameyang will be at Arsenal for the foreseeable future,” Winterburn told Stadium Astro.
“My understanding is it’s a three-year plus contract. It seems to be taking a long, long time, it’s made me very, very nervous.
“He’s the one player Arsenal really cannot afford to lose, particularly with what Mikel Arteta is trying to achieve.
“You’ve got all positive vibes coming out, you’re bringing through some good players, if then you were to lose your top striker, your talisman, the leader at the club…
“Until it’s signed I won’t believe it, but my understanding is the agreement is there. It’s in place, he will be at Arsenal next season.
“Aubameyang knows how much he’s valued not only at the football club but by Arteta. Arteta has spoken about Aubameyang on numerous occasions, he’s captain, you know, he’s a player cannot afford to lose.
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“He’s trying to structure a team around him and even though we’re talking about Aubameyang’s contract, I believe he will sign and stay, he still has to keep that drive and desire going or else Arteta will be looking to replace him.
“At this moment in time, there is no replacement that Arsenal can afford to get for Aubameyang. So they have to in a way a little bit roll over and give him somewhere near the money that he wants.
“Also I think Aubameyang will be saying back to the club, ‘Who are you bringing to the club to make us competitive? First of all to get us back in the Champions League.’
“They’ve got the right manager in charge, they’re starting to bring in the right players, now we just need to get Aubameyang’s signature which I think will be revealed very, very shortly and Arsenal hopefully will be on the right tracks again.”
Arsenal legend Ian Wright declared on Match of the Day that Aubameyang will be Arsenal’s best signing of the summer, even though debutants Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian impressed at Fulham.
Gabriel capped off a fine defensive display by scoring Arsenal’s second goal from a corner while Willian set up all three strikes in southwest London.
“He will be their best signing,” Wright said. “I’m going to see papa Aubameyang tomorrow. They have to sign, simple as that, and I’m not going to leave. We have to sign that guy.”
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