Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been sent back to London and will take no part in the ongoing African Cup of Nations, and Gabon head coach Patrice Neveu claims the decision to do so was made under strong pressure from Arsenal.
Aubameyang tested positive to COVID-19 following an alleged party with some of his international teammates, and as their health was later checked by the Confederation of African Football medical officials. They were diagnosed with “cardiac lesions”. Along with the Arsenal forward, OGC Nice midfielder Mario Lemina, formerly of Southampton, has also been sent home where further medical tests will be done by the two clubs.
Speaking to the media, Neveu said both players had apparently recovered from the virus and tested negative, but as an MRI scan couldn’t be done, they weren’t allowed to train. Both clubs understandably expressed great concern for their players, demanding clarity over the situation, and applied pressure on Gabon and their medical team to send both Aubameyang and Lemina back.
There has still been no official communication from Arsenal (or Nice) about any of this.
“What I know is that they’ve been COVID-free over the last 72 hours,” Neveu said.
“We couldn’t arrange an MRI for them, and as a result, they couldn’t train.
“It was really annoying for them to stay in their rooms. We made the decision yesterday with the President, and under pressure from the clubs too, because they’re worried, so that Aubameyang should go back to Arsenal, and Mario back to Nice.
“[Aubameyang] is a key player for Arsenal, although he’s going through a tough period at the moment.
“When a player’s health is affected, and you know they are paid by the clubs, you have to be reasonable some point.