Arsenal have stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the club captaincy and the forward will not be considered for selection against West Ham on Wednesday.
Aubameyang was dropped for Saturday’s Premier League 3-0 win over Southampton for what manager Mikel Arteta said was a “disciplinary breach”, which reportedly concerned a late return from a trip abroad.
Arteta accepts it will take time for the rift with Aubameyang to heal – but has refused to be drawn on whether the Gabon forward had played his last game for the club.
Arsenal’s statement said the club expected “all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed”.
It is not Aubameyang’s first transgression, having previously been benched for March’s north London derby against Tottenham after what was described as a breach of the club’s pre-match protocol.
“What I can say now is to make the decision that we made is really hurting, and it is still like this and it needs a bit of time to heal, so for now, he is not involved in the squad,” said Arteta.
Asked if Aubameyang had played his last game for the club, Arteta added: “All I can say is that for now, he’s out of the squad, he’s not involved and sadly, this is the decision that we’ve taken.”
Arteta, who confirmed he had a face-to-face conversation with Aubameyang, added: “Since I have been here (my relationship with him has been) really, really good. That is why it is painful.
“When we had to make that decision, it was because it was the right one to defend the interests of the football club.
“It’s a really particular situation, first of all with the importance that the player has at the club, with their role, with the relationship that I have with him.
“But unfortunately, this is the situation that we have and we have to face it.”
Arteta added: “We have made this decision based on certain moments where he has not fulfilled his duties, and that’s it.”
Alexandre Lacazette, who led the side against Southampton and opened the scoring, is considered favourite to be captain against the Hammers with Arteta saying he would take time to make a permanent choice. .