Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign has finished without him even playing a game as Gabon confirmed he was returning to Arsenal for medical reasons.
Aubameyang tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6, ruling him out of Gabon’s Group C opener with the Comoros.
Initially he was expected to return to action for the match against Ghana, which finished 1-1, with Aubameyang addressing the media the day before the game after returning a negative coronavirus test result.
But he was held back on medical grounds after the African Football Confederation (CAF) identified “cardiac lesions” – damage or abnormal change to body tissue – in health checks.
While apparently deemed to be not serious, Gabon have determined the best course of action is to send Aubameyang – and Nice midfielder Mario Lemina, who had a similar diagnosis after also contracting COVID-19 – back to his club for the appropriate medical follow-ups.
COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE pic.twitter.com/VdtU528tWM
— Fédération Gabonaise de Football – FEGAFOOT (@fegafoot_gabon) January 17, 2022
A statement read: “The Gabonese Football Federation has decided to put the players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina back at the disposition of their clubs in order for them to follow more in-depth exams.”
Aubameyang returns to Arsenal with his future at the club unclear.
The striker was stripped of the captaincy in December after reportedly returning late from a trip abroad, and he was subsequently ostracised from the starting XI.
He did not play again before being allowed to leave early for the AFCON, with Mikel Arteta revealing Gabon’s request in that regard had been accepted because Aubameyang was not going to play against Manchester City at the start of the month.