ARSENAL manager Mikel Arteta has given exiled star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang permission to link up with Gabon early after being stripped of the captaincy.
Aubameyang has been banished from the Gunners squad over another disciplinary matter as he returned late from a visit to France two weeks ago.
The striker has since been excluded from Arteta's plans and thus the north Londoners' boss has decided he can join his national team for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon early.
The Spanish head coach received a letter from Patrice Neveu's side requesting the release of their captain and he allowed it.
Arteta said: “We had a letter from the national team asking to release the player.
“The player wasn’t going to be involved today so for his fitness and to keep competing, it was the right thing to do.
“At the moment, he’s gone [to AFCON]. He needs to focus on the national team.
“We had the conversation that that was the best possible way to do it. As I said before, we will address that game by game.”
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Arsenal team-mate Granit Xhaka is confident that Aubameyang still has a future at the Emirates despite his bust-up with Arteta.
Xhaka knows how the 32-year-old is feeling as he was also set to quit when he had the armband taken from him by former manager Unai Emery following a falling out with the fans in October 2019.
He said: "I have been in this situation and know how Auba is feeling.
“Mine is a different story with different problems but maybe sometimes this is not a step back but a step forward.
“I think Auba is strong enough and has enough experience to come back and be better than before.
“It doesn’t have to bring you down. You have to be positive and believe you can turn it around. And I believe Auba can do that.”
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