This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Granit Xhaka was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy on Tuesday, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking over the role, as reported by BBC Sport.
Granted, there aren’t that many Arsenal players who jump out as a natural skipper – which is probably why Xhaka was named in the first place – but the Gabon international’s appointment was a bit of a surprise.
FFC recently wrote about the dwindling influence of the captain in Premier League football, and the decision to appoint Aubameyang has served to further illustrate that point.
One thing that can be suggested about the way this role has evolved over time is that there are now various moulds of captain.
Within Arsenal, Sokratis may fit the brutish enforcer image, Hector Bellerin is the active speaker, having opened up on various social issues, while Matteo Guendouzi is the embodiment of someone who puts their all in for the team.
Aubameyang fits very clearly into one category: the talismanic figure. This type of captain often leads by example, simply by being the best, giving their teammates a level to work towards.
It is fair to say that the 30-year-old has been the Gunners’ top performer this campaign, as he has scored 8 Premier League goals in 11 games, which equates to half of the team’s overall total.
There may be more to Aubameyang than meets the eye. Perhaps, behind the beaming smile and amusing celebrations hides a motivator and man of powerful words who can grab his team by the scruff of the neck and drag them through a game, or speak success into existence.
However, it seems more likely that his credentials for the position are that he is a likeable character, one who commands the respect of the dressing room, isn’t disliked by the fans and is extremely talented.
Long gone are the days of Arsenal skippers in the ilk of Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams and, while Aubameyang is undoubtedly a strong candidate for the role, it will be intriguing to see how Arsenal’s new skipper fares.