FORMER Arsenal favourite Tony Woodcock believes Mikel Arteta will have no choice but to bring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in from the cold.
The ex-Gunners forward hit out at Aubameyang – who was stripped of the captaincy by Arteta – for ‘disrespecting’ the club’s history and traditions.
The Gabon forward has been dropped for the last two games after arriving back late from an authorised trip to France.
He only signed a three-year contract extension last September on around £250,000 per year.
And Woodcock, who was Arsenal’s top league scorer in each of his four seasons at Arsenal from 1983-86, reckons an olive branch will have to be extended if the north Londoners can’t sell him.
Speaking to SunSport, the 42-capped England striker said: “Aubameyang is costing the club a lot of money, so to get a return on that he’s got to score goals.
“That’s the only way he can repay Arsenal for giving him this extended contract.
“I would like to think things might quieten down, and I would like to think he might learn from it and apologise.
“If that doesn’t happen, you’ve got an unhappy player who is costing the club an absolute fortune.
“You’ll then have people swimming around thinking they can get him for next to nothing, and the return on investment will be really poor.
“But he’s 32… someone is not going to pay huge sums to buy him and then pay his big wages on top.
“Mikel Arteta has done the right thing, but you’ve got to see how it develops because you don’t want to be throwing a load of money out the window.
“With what he has cost over the years, and what is owed to him over the length of his contract, the only way to get a return on Aubameyang is by him scoring lots of goals.”
Alexandre Lacazette had the armband against West Ham on Wednesday night, but Bukayo Saka, Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale and Kieran Tierney have all been tipped to be the long-term skipper.
Woodcock, 66, says there is no obvious choice to take the armband, but the Nottingham Forest legend insists the Arsenal boss made the right call in defence of the club’s principles.
He added: “It’s the only thing Arteta could have done. If you’re slack with your time-keeping, something else will happen down the line.
“It looks like there has been a lack of discipline on more than one occasion. You need to show a bit more respect, whether your captain or not.
“You’ve got the academy kids coming through and you’re telling them that Arsenal is the club with tradition and history, that you should wear this shirt with pride.
“So you don’t turn up late for work or say you couldn’t make it back on that day.
“There may have been a valid reason, but then you pick the phone up and communicate.
“When I joined them from Cologne in 1982 it was about behaviour.
“The captain would choose whether you wore long or short-sleeved shirts, and we were told we weren’t allowed facial hair because it went back 100 years. It was an institution.
“When you’re representing Arsenal you’ve got to be on top of your game, on and off the field.”
Woodcock made his name at Forest in Brian Clough’s all-conquering side, starring in the 1979 European Cup-winning team.
Alongside Viv Anderson and Gary Birtles, he was one of three from that team born in Nottinghamshire.
And their stories are the focus of a new documentary out in early 2022 on new streaming platform 360 Sports TV.
Launched last week with over 300 hours of content and a host of other films in the pipeline, it’s the first service dedicated solely to sports docs.
Adam Lallana, Martin O’Neill and rugby heavyweights Kyle Sinckler, Jack Clifford and Michael Young are also on board.
And Woodcock, who is a director and founding shareholder, said: “If you win the Champions League now, you’ll be lucky to have three players from the same country.
“And you look at the class of ’92…we had three Nottingham lads.
“Gary Birtles was a carpet-fitter who came up, Viv was from Europe’s second-largest council estate where he was one of only two black families, and I came from a pit village which had a bit of a reputation.
LATEST IN SUN BINGO AND VEGAS
“Everyone seems to love sports documentaries but we thought we could do it differently.
“You might see Michael Jordan and David Beckham, but there are some really great stories out there of incredible endeavour and determination.
“I see Arsenal are doing a behind-the-scenes documentary. If we did one at Forest, it wouldn’t have been allowed – it would have to be put on the dark web!”