Arsenal must "break the bank" to keep hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Kevin Campbell, who says the Gunners have been guilty of "messing around" when it comes to their star striker's future.
Aubameyang has lived up to his reputation as one of Europe's most deadly centre-forwards since joining Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
The 30-year-old has hit 61 goals in 97 appearances for the Gunners, and he currently boasts the fourth-best goals-per-game ratio in Premier League history behind Thierry Henry, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero.
Despite the Gabon international's prolific output in the final third, Arsenal have yet to offer him an extension on his current deal, which is due to expire in 2021.
Aubameyang confirmed as much during an interview with Telefoot at the weekend, stating: “They know very well why so far nothing has happened. They have the keys. It is up to them to do their work and, after that, we will see how things go.”
Campbell says the Gunners have backed themselves into a corner when it comes to a prized asset's position at Emirates Stadium, and that they are unlikely to find anyone better to come in and fill his boots.
“Aubameyang guarantees you goals, and if you sell your goals you’re in a very difficult position to replace them,” the ex-Arsenal striker told talkSPORT.
“He’s guaranteed to get you 20 goals a season, minimum, so how are you going to replace that?
“If you don’t give him what he wants, it’s going to cost more to find someone to replace him, and even then they are not proven they can come in and do it.
“He’s in the building! Yes, he’s going to be 31 but he’s still lean, he’s still sharp, he’s still fast – this is the type of player you build around.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking at the club, but I’d have signed him a year ago!”
The Gunners famously ended up selling both Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie due to poor contract planning, and Campbell sees history repeating itself with Aubameyang unless the club gives in to his demands.
“I think Arsenal have shot themselves in the foot yet again,” he added. “They’ve played a game and they’ve taken a risk hoping that they’ll qualify for the Champions League so that would obviously push him to be signing, but it isn’t quite working out this season.
“It’s a very, very dangerous game that they’re playing. The backroom people and the hierarchy said they would never put themselves in this position again, but what have they done? They’ve put themselves in this situation again!
“The club has been run so poorly on the transfer retention side, they keep putting themselves in this very difficult situation and it’s not right, fans are going to go crazy about it.
“I think Aubameyang is right to put the ball firmly in their court and it’s now up to Arsenal to make some moves and prove to him that they’re serious. As an Arsenal fan I want him to stay, of course I do, but if I’m Aubameyang, I’ve been at Arsenal all this time and they have been messing around!
“What Arsenal have been doing, skimping and scraping, is not going to turn his head to stay. If Mikel Arteta wants to keep him they have to break the bank to keep him, they have to.”