Mikel Arteta refused to single out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when saying that “several players” were holding back the progression of Arsenal.
The Gabonese striker left the Gunners in controversial circumstances last winter.
A disciplinary breach in December 2021 appeared to be the last straw for Arteta, who ostracised Aubameyang before eventually deciding he had to leave.
Much has been said about the Spanish manager’s decision, with many criticising him for offloading the experienced striker without signing a replacement, which might well have cost Arsenal a top-four finish in the Premier League in 2021-22.
Footage showing Aubameyang taking a swipe at Arteta surfaced in October, proving that he was unhappy with his treatment at the Emirates.
He was seen saying the former Manchester City assistant struggles to deal with “big characters and big players” and “needs some young players who don’t say anything” because “they listen”.
While we saw some of the behind-the-scenes stuff during Arsenal’s All or Nothing documentary, Arteta has once again discussed the situation in a revealing interview with Jamie Carragher for Sky Sports.
Contrary to some reports, Arteta insists the decision to offload Aubameyang was made “as a club”.
The Spaniard spoke a lot about his process in north London, and believes getting rid of “several players” – not just Aubameyang – was crucial in speeding it up.
“First of all I didn’t take that decision, we took that decision as a club,” Arteta told Carragher.
“Obviously there is my recommendation and what I feel that we need to do to get where we want.
“But I wouldn’t like to single out one player. I think it was with several players.
“It was part of the strategy of what we’re trying to build.
“At the end of the day, when you are in that process and you want to go faster there are people holding that boat [back] and putting weight on it.
“I’m sorry but we want to go even faster and there’s no time, whether it’s a player or a staff member, for someone damaging the club and we made that decision.”
Arteta claimed that Arsenal are ahead of schedule in their process under him. He was appointed in December 2019 and won the FA Cup in his debut season, though he has gone through plenty of difficult spells since then.
The former Gunners captain explained his five-phase plan, saying: “The important ones are my wife and my family because that’s when you really open up, open your feelings, and say exactly the way you are feeling.
“Then the coaching staff, I think they are critical, you can really sense what is happening, how they are feeling, how they can help you.
“The third one is to have a club behind you that is understanding what the situation is and what it’s going take to move from where we are here to there.
“The good thing is I had a really clear plan, I put a plan of five different phases for the club – where we are compared with the rest of the teams.
“The timeline and everything we have to hit in every phase.”
Asked if Arsenal are ahead or behind in his project, Arteta grinned and replied: “We are ahead.”
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