The Gunners only have their captain tied to terms through to the summer of 2021, while questions continue be asked of a World Cup-winning playmaker
Arsenal have a big decision to make on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this summer, admits Nigel Winterburn, with the Gunners not about to get £80 million ($104m) for a striker entering the final 12 months of his contract.
Those at Emirates Stadium had been hoping to get their club captain tied to fresh terms by now.
No agreement has been reached, though, and questions continue to be asked of the prolific striker’s future in north London.
Some have suggested that, at 30 years of age, Arsenal should allow Aubameyang to run down his deal and leave on a free, rather than take the risk of parting with their most productive attacking weapon.
Winterburn concedes that the Gabonese presents quite the quandary, telling Genting Bet: “I hope Aubameyang will be an Arsenal player next season but they have a decision to make.
“Arsenal have never been a big spending club. His contract’s up next season and they’re not going to let someone run down their contract again, although they’ve got little opportunity if he wants to do that.
“If the indication is that he’s not going to sign, they may have to take the opportunity and say ‘right, we’re going to take £40 million or whatever’. I don’t think they’re going to get 70 or 80 that they’re talking about with a year left for a player that’s coming to 31 years of age.
“For me, it’s more important whether the player wants to stay, who comes calling in the summer, and do Arsenal take the risk or can they convince him to sign a new contract? At the moment, it’s so difficult to call.”
Another of those to have seen a move mooted on a regular basis is Mesut Ozil, with the World Cup winner also tied to terms through to 2021.
He has stated that he intends to honour that lucrative agreement and Winterburn is not expecting Arsenal to cash in on a creative influence that has rediscovered a spark under Mikel Arteta.
The former Gunners defender said: “I don’t think there is a case where Mesut Ozil will leave in the summer. I think Mesut Ozil has said ‘I’m staying, I’m seeing out my contract’. And Arsenal offered him the deal. He’s not going to be forced out the door if the club don’t want him.
“Ozil’s performances have improved. There’s no doubt about that. But, again, if you want to see a 90 minutes performance from Ozil, you’re going to be disappointed. He’s not that type of player. He’s in the game for 10 minutes, he might then disappear for a bit, but then he comes back into the game.
“But if you give him enough of the ball and he will create something for you. But is that enough for the current manager, and can he do a bit more defensively?
“You’re never going to get Ozil tackling, but can he get into positions to slow the opposition down or go and press properly when the manager wants you to press?
“I think that’s the questions that will be asked from Arteta to Ozil, to suggest whether he plays more regularly and what involvement he will have next season, which for me is more intriguing.”