Sometimes, a player ruins his reputation.
A reputation that took seasons, blood, sweat and tears to forge.
In the time it takes to hold aloft another club’s shirt, or have a covert meeting, they undo all the adoration they had built with a club’s fans.
See Emanuel Adebayor, Ashley Cole, Robin Van Persie and Laurent Koscielny.
But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doesn’t warrant this kind of negativity.
The Gabon striker may be guilty of a disciplinary issue. He might have broken a few rules set by current boss Mikel Arteta.
But does that unravel the heroics he displayed in the majority of his time at Arsenal?
Let’s look at the details.
When Aubameyang joined, the club was in disarray. A squad bloated with ill-fitting players who couldn’t muster the standard required for where the club was aiming, Arsenal were holding out for a hero.
Step forward Auba.
The striker had his choice of clubs, given the ridiculous numbers he had generated in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund Halfway through the 17/18 season, he had scored 21 goals in just 24 games. The season before? 40 goals in 46 games, with 5 assists. The season before that? 39 goals in 49 games, with 12 assists.
Continued, consistent brilliance at the top of domestic football.
Given his choices of where he could ply his trade, the fact Auba selected Arsenal is a coup in itself, given our situation at the time.
Perhaps it was the Wenger factor? Even in his last season, he managed to lure one of the top European talents to our club, with our star on the wane?
Whatever it was, Auba was with us – and he hit the ground running. 10 goals in just 14 games meant he made double figures in less than half a season.
It whetted the appetite – and he delivered the next season – in a campaign that flopped miserably over the line but had promised so much.
Despite our woes, Auba came away with his reputation soaring, scoring 31 goals in 51 games, with 8 assists. He bagged the golden boot in his first full season, matching Mo Salah and Sadio Mane who played for a far stronger outfit.
The next season? The managerial change in December was perhaps a galvanizing effect, but Auba netted 29 times, with 3 assists. In just 49 games. But it was his season-defining performances in both the semi-final and final of the FA Cup – against opposition that should have steamrollered us – that will be forever etched in the history of the club.
Two goals in the semi-final against an all-conquering Manchester City. And his two goals in the Final to defeat London rivals Chelsea were enough to see the trophy back with our club again.
Make no mistake, it was Aubameyang who helped get us to Wembley and to lift the Cup. Our whole side deserve plaudits of course, but in games of such tight control, it is often down to individual brilliance to tip the scales.
And it was Aubameyang who did just that.
We begged and pleaded for him to stay, to extend his contract. When he did, the club revealed it and everyone was happy with the result.
His next season didn’t quite hit the heights. A mixture of a different approach from Arteta and some poor form meant only 15 goals for Auba, with 4 assists, in 39 games. Hardly poor, but not to his standard. Cue the fickle part of our fanbase stating his new contract was the reason why our beloved striker was downing tools.
And this season, Auba had crossed a line when returning from a trip to reportedly visit his sick relative. He returned late – and he never played for the club again. In all that time, Auba didn’t come out and lambast the club nor Arteta. It was clear they were at loggerheads, but he handled himself classily, as did Arteta.
As is the Arsenal Way.
It was clear that the only way was out for Auba, and so a free transfer set the wheels in motion.
Aubameyang deserves the adulation, because in his time at the club, he performed above and beyond when the club badly needed a clearout. He almost single-handedly won us silverware too. Players have been lavished with praise for less.
Aubameyang has been our best striker by far since the days of RVP.
But the crucial difference is, the Gabon striker deserves to be held in the highest regard for how he departed too.