Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has confirmed exiled star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has left the club to join up with Gabon for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Reports on Thursday suggested the striker had linked up with his country for next month’s tournament and would miss Arsenal’s clash against league leaders Manchester City on Saturday.

Arteta, who is currently isolating with coronavirus and so conducted his pre-match press duties from home, confirmed that was the case with Aubameyang now away on international duty.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Gunners manager Mikel Arteta

Gunners manager Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta (R) confirmed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) has joined up with Gabon 

Arteta stripped the centre forward of the captaincy following another disciplinary breach

Arteta stripped the centre forward of the captaincy following another disciplinary breach

Arteta stripped the centre forward of the captaincy following another disciplinary breach 

The centre forward has been frozen out by the Gunners boss after he stripped the captaincy from him for another disciplinary breach, and Arteta refused to discuss whether Aubameyang has a future at the club.

‘For me it’s not about being right or wrong it’s about making the decisions that you believe are a consequence of what you’re asking them to do. As I said we’ll go game by game,’ he said on Friday.

‘At the moment he’s gone. He needs to focus on the national team. We had the conversation that that was the best way to do it.’ 

Arsenal have been in fine form since Aubameyang was frozen out and are in fourth place

Arsenal have been in fine form since Aubameyang was frozen out and are in fourth place

Arsenal have been in fine form since Aubameyang was frozen out and are in fourth place

The tournament in Cameroon will get underway on January 9 and even counting for just group stage matches, Aubameyang will miss at least five Gunners fixtures. 

Along with the City clash there is also the two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool, the FA Cup third-round tie against Nottingham Forest and even the north London derby against Tottenham.

A Premier League clash at home to Burnley the following weekend on January 22 may also come too soon for the striker even if Gabon are knocked out of the group stage.

Should Gabon go all the way to the final on February 6, then Aubameyang could also miss the clash at Wolves on February 10.

In Aubameyang’s absence the Gunners have won five consecutive games across all competitions while scoring 19 goals and are flying high in fourth place in the Premier League.

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