In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, John Hartson has said Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would have been a good option for the Arsenal captaincy.
Last week, Unai Emery selected Granit Xhaka as the new leader of the dressing room following the departure of French centre-back Laurent Koscielny in the summer. Whilst he appears to be a popular candidate amongst the players – the majority are said to have voted for him in a secret ballot – the fans appear far from happy with the announcement, and have since voiced their displeasure.
The Switzerland international is one of the more senior players in the squad, so from that point of view, it makes sense. However, former Gunners striker Hartson believes that 30-year-old striker Aubameyang would have also made a fine skipper.
He explained: “The other one I thought who leads by example for me would be Aubameyang. People might question whether centre-forwards make great captains but Kane captain’s England and Shearer used to captain Newcastle.
“There have been occasions when forwards have captained teams.
“I say Aubameyang because I love his attitude. He chases lost causes, he works his socks off and he’s almost always in amongst the goals. That could be another option.”
The likelihood is, the Gabon international – valued at £63 million by Transfermarkt – would have been a far more popular choice amongst the Emirates Stadium faithful. Right now, he is easily the best player in the Arsenal squad, and his goal record sets him apart from a lot of forwards in world football. He already has eight in eight matches so far this term, which now takes him to 49 goals in 73 appearances for the Gunners.
But, as Hartson says, his influence on his teammates equates to more than just putting the ball in the back of the net. His puts himself on the line for his side and leads from the front. There are so many examples nowadays of players who don’t necessarily have huge vocal skills or personalities like Tony Adams or Roy Keane did in the past.
For example, Lionel Messi has the armband at Barcelona, and David Silva has just been given the same responsibility at Manchester City.
Players look up to those who prove themselves with their feet, rather than with their mouths. Aubameyang would demand respect, too. For now, though, Gunners fans must get behind Xhaka, no matter their personal opinion of the 27-year-old.