Gabon were “under pressure” from Arsenal to release Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from their African Cup of Nations squad, according to their head coach Patrice Neveu.
The forward has not featured for Arsenal since the start of December. He was stripped of the captain’s armband as a result of a disciplinary breach.
Aubameyang has been linked with a move away from the Gunners in recent weeks but he was due to feature for Gabon at this month’s African Cup of Nations.
The 32-year-old tested positive for Covid-19 in the lead up to the tournament. It was then revealed that he was not selected for their game against Ghana due to suspected “heart problems”.
Aubameyang has now been removed from Gabon’s squad and he is returning to Arsenal. He has insisted that his AFCON exit was not due to disciplinary reasons:
“We have problems that are already complicated to solve, then on top of that there are rumours.
“In short, we have health to take care of first and foremost. I won’t go back on these false rumours and I sincerely hope that our team will go as far as possible.”
Neveu has now told Sky Sports that Gabon were “under pressure” from Mikel Arteta’s side to let Aubameyang return to England:
“What I know is that they’ve been Covid free for the last 72 hours. We couldn’t arrange an MRI for them, and as a result they couldn’t train,” Neveu said.
“It was really annoying for them to stay in their rooms. We made the decision yesterday with the President and under pressure from the clubs too, because they’re worried so that [Aubameyang] should go back to Arsenal and Mario [Lemina] back to Nice.”
Neveu went onto admit that it was Arsenal’s right to recall Aubameyang:
“As you know, he’s a key player for Arsenal, although he’s going through a tough period at the moment. We still have to report to clubs.
“And when a player’s health is affected and as you know they are paid by the club. We have to be reasonable at some point.”
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