Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoger is hopeful that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will remain a Dortmund player beyond the January transfer window despite admitting that many at the club cannot understand his current behaviour.
The Gabon international striker was suspended for their game against Wolfsburg on Sunday (14 January) after the striker missed a team meeting and it was his third such penalty in less than 12 months.
Apart from the coach, the Bundesliga outfit's sporting director Michael Zorc has also questioned Aubameyang's behaviour and admitted that their patience is running thin. The 28-year-old has been linked with a move away this month with reports suggesting that he is close to joining Arsenal in the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger is seeking a replacement for Alexis Sanchez, who is on the verge of joining Manchester United and has identified the Dortmund hitman as his primary target. It is believed that Aubameyang has already agreed terms with the north London club and is desperate to end his stay at the Westfalenstadion.
The German club's manager, however, admitted that his departure is not certain after confirming that he will be in the squad for their next game against Hertha Berlin on Sunday (20 January). Reports seem to contradict Stoger with The Sun reporting that Aubameyang's agent is currently in London negotiating the transfer to Arsenal for a fee of around £53m ($73.2m).
"Disappointment is the wrong expression. Rather a lack of understanding as I cannot really comprehend his conduct. And I am certainly not the only one," Stoger said in an interview with German publication Sport Bild.
"I assume so. He's a Dortmund player, he trains and he's in our plans for the upcoming match," the Dortmund coach added.
Despite his off-field altercations, he remains one of the club's key players having scored 21 goals in 23 appearances in all competitions this season. Dortmund will have to replace him if they agree to sell him and have identified a number of targets at least in the short-term.
Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi has been touted as a potential replacement for the Gabon striker, while French broadcaster RMC Sport is reporting that they have made contact with Arsenal over a move for Olivier Giroud.
The France international is currently sidelined with injury, but is expected to return to action in under two weeks' time. Giroud's game time will be further reduced if Aubameyang arrives and the Frenchman is keen to play regularly in order to keep his place in Didier Deschamps' 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The RMC report, however, claims that Dortmund have informed Arsenal that any move for Giroud will not be part of the Aubameyang deal and it will be negotiated separately. It also suggests that the Gunners striker is only being looked at as a short-term solution before a long-term replacement for the Arsenal bound striker arrives in the summer.
Apart from Aubameyang, the Gunners are also said to be on the trail of Bordeaux hotshot Malcom, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also expected to arrive as part of the deal that sees Sanchez join Jose Mourinho's side. Wenger has to not only replace the Chilean, but also Theo Walcott, who completed a move to Everton on Wednesday (17 January).
The Dortmund's striker could become Arsenal's fourth January transfer following the departures of Walcott and Francis Coquelin to Everton and Valencia, respectively, and the arrival of Konstantinos Mavrapanos from Greek outfit PAS Giannina.