Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang confirms a rift with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta contributed to Deadline Day departure to Barcelona; Gabon striker spent exactly four years at the Emirates, scoring 92 goals in 163 appearances for the Gunners
By Dan Long
Thursday 3 February 2022 21:11, UK
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has confirmed a strained relationship with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta contributed to his decision to join Barcelona on a free transfer.
The striker swapped north London for Catalonia on Deadline Day after being stripped of the captaincy at the Emirates in December following a disciplinary breach.
His late substitute appearance in the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on December 6 would, as it transpired, be his last for the club, given the apparent rift between the pair.
Speaking at his official unveiling at the Nou Camp, Aubameyang said: “I think it was a problem just with him [Arteta]. I can’t really tell you much. He wasn’t happy and that was it. I can’t say anything else because that’s what happened. I wasn’t very happy and I’m better this way.
“There were some complicated months. Sometimes football is like that. If I had to say something about this, I would say, on my behalf, I never wanted to do anything bad.
“Now I have to put this behind me, that is in the past. I want to think about the present.”
Given Barcelona’s ongoing financial issues, the 32-year-old is reported to have taken a significant pay cut to force the move through, which brought an end to his four-year association with Arsenal.
The move, however, appeared to be on the rocks at one point, when he arrived in the city before any official agreement between the two clubs was reached.
“That was a very long, crazy day,” he added.
“I was with my dad at his house and I was just hoping that everything would work out well. They called me in the afternoon and said I could do the medical checks. I was a bit stressed, but everything was good in the end.
“It is true that I’ve not played for a little while, but in my head everything is very clear. I’ll be ready to play and help out soon. I know that we are going to go back to the top little by little.”
Leading the player’s unveiling in Auditorium 1899 was Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who suggested there would be a financial incentive for Aubameyang later down the line as a result of his salary sacrifice.
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He said: “Everything has worked very well with this transfer. We are signing a top player who wanted to come to Barca, who made an effort, a sacrifice, to come here, which we appreciate very much.
“Once we have a more healthy financial situation, we will help you as you are helping Barca now.
“We were working hard late in the night to finalise this transfer and until the last minute when the contract between him and Arsenal was in, as well as the one here at Barca to formalise this signing.
“I think we had a very good winter transfer window that was within the possibilities of the club.”
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Having signed a three-year deal, which includes an 18-month break clause, the Gabon international appears optimistic about his future and has targeted not only a return to the Champions League but lifting the trophy, too.
“Barca is a great club that has to win the Champions League, that’s why I came here,” he said. “I am here to do everything we can to get back into the Champions League and then go out and win it.
“I have always had the dream to play in La Liga; it is something I have dreamed of as a child. This is the opportunity of my life. Barca are one of the best clubs in the world so that is why I am here.
“Everything is really good. When I got here, I will tell you the truth, I felt really good. The people are really good. I’m really happy. It is like a dream and I’m not at all ready to wake up.
“I dream of playing here for a long time. I’m going to work very hard to keep playing as long as possible. I’m going to give everything I have got and I need to show my gratitude to the club. It is an honour for me to be here.”
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