Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suffers Covid blow days before AFCON after partying in Dubai

Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has tested positive for Covid upon landing in Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations, harming his preparations for the tournament.

The 32-year-old striker has been named as his country’s captain for the tournament, despite losing the armband at club level, but is now a doubt as Gabon prepare to get their campaign underway.

Aubameyang was seen partying with teammates in Dubai before flying to Cameroon, with the Gabonese squad linking up in the Middle East before making their way to their AFCON base.

Patrice Neveu’s team are due to begin their campaign against Comoros on Monday, January 10, before matches against Ghana and Morocco, and they could be without their all-time top scorer for one or more of the games.

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Aubameyang hasn’t played any football in the last month

Aubameyang and international teammate Mario Lemina were both seen in a video circulating on social media, believed to be from the Gabon squad’s trip to Dubai.

The Arsenal striker joined his teammates before the Gunners’ New Year’s Day match against Manchester City, having been left out of Mikel Arteta’s matchday squad for a number of games prior.

As reported by Mansour Loum of Sport News Africa, both Aubameyang and Lemina tested positive for Covid after touching down in Cameroon.

Aubameyang had earlier shared a photo from the plane to Cameroon on his Instagram stories, having posted a ‘Happy New Year’ message a few days prior.

The striker was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy following a disciplinary breach, having last played for the club a month ago, and the Gunners have reportedly begun exploring the possibility of a sale.

Newcastle United are among the clubs mentioned in connection with the former Borussia Dortmund man, while Barcelona and Juventus are also among the potential suitors.

If Aubameyang and former Fulham midfielder Lemina are confirmed absentees for the Comoros game, they are likely to have a race against time to feature in the other group games.

Gabon take on Ghana on January 14, with Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey expected to line up for their opponents, with the meeting with Morocco taking place four days later.

The winner of Gabon’s group will go up against one of the third-placed sides in the round of 16, while a second-place finish would set up a clash against the runner-up of the group including host nation Cameroon.

Aubameyang is already due to miss a number of Arsenal games due to his international responsibilities, with a North London Derby in the Premier League and both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final among them.

The first leg of the clash with Liverpool has been pushed back following Covid cases in the Liverpool camp, but the new date for the game is just two days after Gabon’s group stage closer, and even an early elimination for Neveu’s side is unlikely to give the player time to return to London.

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