“He (Auba) has a hand in about 50 percent of our goals but at some point certain behaviour is no longer tolerable.”
That is what Dortmund Director of Football said about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January 2018.
When Arsenal signed the Gabon international, his talent was not in question. His attitude was.
Everything pointed to a player that was professional on the pitch and training ground, but he let himself down with tardiness and absenteeism.
Dortmund keeper Robert Burki summed up Aubameyang’s after the goal scorer was left out of the team for “disciplinary issues”.
Burki said: “The rules apply to every player regardless of how many goals he scores or prevents. The rules have to be followed and I think he knows that. [His suspension] was a logical decision.
“All this is not because of his performances in training. He always gives his best in training.
“We need him, that once again became evident today. It would be pitiful if he was to miss more games due to such idiotic behaviour.”
Aubameyang had missed a compulsory team meal to discuss common goals and code of conduct. His excuse was that he had “forgot”.
And this was not the first time Aubameyang had missed a meeting, training or turned up late.
In an interview around the same time, Zorc stated “it is not the first misdemeanour of this sort.”
The incident of missing the meeting happened around the same time Arsenal were pursuing him. But there had been problems circulating for years.
In November 2017 he was temporarily suspended in November, with Zorc revealing that punctuality problems had led to the action. Bild reported that the striker had been repeatedly late for training, including turning up 20 minutes late for final preparations ahead of the trip to Stuttgart.
The striker was also suspended in November 2016 when he missed a 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League for an unapproved trip to Milan against then-coach Thomas Tuchel’s wishes.
We have all worked with someone like Auba. Someone who works hard and is talented at what they do, but continue to let themselves down with unapproved days off and lateness. Eventually, no matter they are performing, their behaviour begins to affect the rest of your team.
Some will ask why Arsenal signed Aubameyang on the first place.
92 goals and 30 assists in 163 appearances is why we signed him. Without him we probably wouldn’t have won the FA Cup in 2020.
The mistake, in hindsight, was handing him a new contract.
He was already clearly on the wain and problems were mounting up behind the scenes when we handed him the big deal.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Aubameyang hits the ground running with Barcelona.
There is still life in his old legs and the move could revitalise him in the same way his transfer from Dortmund to Arsenal did.
But then it will probably not be long until the rumours re-surface of missing training sessions and unauthorised trips abroad.
A leopard can’t change its spots.