Mikel Arteta has confirmed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is “not available for selection” against Leeds United, having been left out of the squad for the club’s last two Premier League games.
Aubameyang reportedly returned late from a trip to France and was not involved as the Gunners beat Southampton 3-0 at home on December 11.
The Gabon striker was subsequently stripped of the captaincy and was omitted again on Wednesday as Arsenal clinched an important 2-0 London derby victory over West Ham to leapfrog the Hammers into fourth.
The Gunners’ success in the absence of Aubameyang suggests the team is moving on from their reliance on the 32-year-old, who has managed just four league goals in 14 appearances so far this season.
Arteta’s men travel to Elland Road on Saturday but will do so without their former skipper as the Gunners boss refused to expand on the star forward’s future.
“No, [Aubameyang] is not available for selection,” Arteta said at a news conference ahead of the match against Leeds.
No permanent replacement captain has yet been selected by Arteta, with the Arsenal manager seemingly content to allow leadership duties to be shared in the short-term.
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He did single out 23-year-old Martin Odegaard – who wears the armband for Norway – for praise, hailing the attacking midfielder’s professionalism.
“He’s very young but he already has a lot of experience in different clubs and at international level,” Arteta continued.
“He’s getting very close to his best level and the ceiling for him, I don’t know where it is because of the talent he has and desire he has. We’ve got a tremendous player there.
“He’s a natural leader. If you look for the perfect professional he would not be very far from there.”