In this instalment of our TT Roundup, Football Transfer Tavern have gathered three of the biggest stories to have involved Arsenal recently and have provided our thoughts on the reports published.
Aubameyang in as Xhaka stripped of captaincy
Unai Emery has confirmed he has removed Granit Xhaka from his role as captain, with the Swiss being replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the club’s permanent skipper.
The decision comes after Xhaka stormed down the tunnel after being subject to boos from his own fans in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace over a week ago.
Ahead of their Europa League clash against Vitoria, Emery stated Xhaka had been removed from the leadership group installed at the club, with four remaining as Aubameyang takes the armband.
It is certainly a big call from Emery to remove Xhaka’s responsibility as Arsenal captain – not least because he earned the call in the first place as a result of a squad vote.
Emery will hope to be acting in the club’s best interests and you can see the benefits from taking the role away from a figure who is clearly proving divisive amongst the fans.
If the fans can get behind new captain Aubameyang, and take pressure off Xhaka in the process, perhaps this is the best solution for all concerned.
James Rodriguez linked with Auba swap deal
Aubameyang’s form (8 goals in 11 Premier League appearances) has alerted the Spanish giants, who are thought to be looking at offloading James Rodriguez to lower the price down.
The report claims that Unai Emery is a big fan of the Colombian, who has recently returned to the Santiago Bernabeu from a lengthy loan spell at Bayern Munich.
The first thing that strikes you with this potential deal is arguably the fact this is not a like-for-like swap, so for all the reasons that Emery would perhaps like to have a player such as Rodriguez, the Gunners would still be a striker light – and a good one, at that.
Whether the pros outweigh the cons remains to be seen, and with Aubameyang approaching the final 18 months of his current deal, perhaps push will come to shove sooner rather than later.
Bowyer blasts Pepe buy
Charlton Athletic manager Lee Bowyer has poured criticism over the Gunners’ decision to buy winger Nicolas Pepe this summer for a club-record fee.
Pepe made the switch to the Emirates Stadium in a £72m deal, but Bowyer feels a defensive signing would have been more ideal – suggesting the club should have made a move for Harry Maguire.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ The Debate (via the Daily Express), Bowyer argued that given the funds were available, another centre-back this summer would have served the Gunners better.
Pepe is still finding his feet at Arsenal – with his match-winning, double free-kick cameo in the Europa League by far his standout performance in a Gunners shirt to date.
That hardly absolves the issues they are experiencing at the back (they have the second-worst defence in the Premier League’s top half), despite the late addition of David Luiz to the backline towards the end of the transfer window.
You can see where Bowyer is coming from, and having won just one of their previous five Premier League games, perhaps reinforcing that area should have been the club’s immediate priority this summer.
Should Xhaka ever play for Arsenal again?
Arsenal fans, what are your thoughts on the stories above? Is there still a way back for Xhaka at the club? Join the discussion by commenting below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!