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Arsenal’s hopes of keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of Barcelona’s clutches may be damaged by Mesut Ozil’s massive wages, believes former Premier League goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.
The Gabon striker is the subject of interest from Barcelona as they plot a replacement for Luis Suarez, who is out for the rest of the season with injury and turns 33 years old tomorrow.
Barca are keeping tabs on both Aubameyang and Rodrigo Moreno of Valencia.
Arsenal frontman Aubameyang has 16 goals for the Gunners this season and boasts 57 strikes and 13 assists in 91 appearances overall in north London since joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
He is into the final 18 months of his contract at the Emirates and it has long been suggested he is keen to play Champions League football.
With Arsenal 10 points off the Premier League’s top four and facing a battle to claw back that gap in the last 14 matches of the campaign, they are at real risk of Aubameyang seeking an exit in the summer.
They are known to want to pen their top goalscorer down to a new deal but the 30-year-old may be keen to move on if Mikel Arteta’s side finish the season poorly, and especially if Barca are keen.
ESPN have claimed, via sources, that the player would like to test himself in La Liga having played in Ligue 1, the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
And Hislop, who also played in England’s top flight with West Ham, Newcastle and Portsmouth, feels Arsenal may be backed into a corner because of Ozil’s wages at the club.
The German is on £350,000-a-week as their highest earner and such a salary, in comparison to that of his team-mates, is believed to have played a part in Aaron Ramsey’s exit on a free transfer back in the summer.
Hislop fears that it could also lead to Aubameyang leaving, since he does not believe Arsenal would be capable of putting the striker on parity with Ozil financially.
The ex-keeper told ESPN FC: “If you’re Aubameyang, you’re quite clearly the best player on their books.
“I’ve always said that Mesut Ozil continues to cause them a problem in terms of offering new contracts.
“If you are asking for a new contract, you want to be on Mesut Ozil money. I’m not sure that Arsenal can afford that.
“At the same time, amazingly, we’re talking about Arsenal’s best player, contract running out, yet again.
“How many times have we been seeing this in the last five or six years? Alexis Sanchez, Ozil, even before that, Van Persie leaving.
“It amazes me how poorly Arsenal are running their business. Even so whether there’s 18 months or 28 months, when Barcelona comes calling, as a player, you listen.”
However, Aubameyang recently declared that he is keen to stay at the club having been linked with Inter Milan and even Manchester United.
The Gunners captain wrote in his programme notes before an FA Cup clash with Leeds United: “I would also like to react to some of the rumours that are going around about me in the media.
“People like making up stories and they should focus on what’s happening on the pitch. They talk too much and it does my head in!
“I am the Arsenal captain. I love this club. I am committed to it and desperate to bring it back to the top, where it belongs.”
Arteta, reacting to those comments, said: “I was thrilled about that and really happy.
“His commitment since the day I walked through that door has been phenomenal, the work he has been putting in, his attitude around the place with the players.
“He has done it [ended speculation], I do it, I want him here and I am so happy with him, so hopefully that is the end of the story.”