Aubameyang left out of Dortmund squad amid links to Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund have left Arsenal target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of their squad to face Hertha Berlin on Friday, with the club's sporting director saying the striker is "not fully focused" after also hitting out at the advances of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
Amid widespread reports that Aubameyang is nearing a move the Arsenal, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc revealed on Thursday that the player would not travel to Berlin.
"He will train in Dortmund," Zorc said. He added on the club's Twitter account: "We have the impression at the moment that he has his head on other things and is not fully focused."
Speaking earlier in the day, Dortmund coach Peter Stoger had left the door open for Aubameyang to return to the squad following the Gabon international's second suspension of the season for disciplinary reasons.
"I talked him through my expectations on Monday," Stoger said. "And it's up to him. He'll decide whether he wants to be in or not. He's in my plans if he commits himself. I'd be informed about changes, and he's part of my plans. He'll be in the squad if nothing changes in the next couple of hours."
Sources have told ESPN FC that the clubs have held talks over a transfer, though Zorc said on Thursday that Arsenal have yet to make an official bid for the 2016-17 Bundesliga top scorer.
However, Zorc did hit out at Wenger following the Arsenal manager's statement about the possibility of signing Aubameyang.
Speaking in London earlier on Thursday, Wenger addressed persistent rumours that Dortmund striker Aubameyang could join Arsenal in the January transfer window. Wenger told reporters the striker would work out well in London, a remark that was not well received in Germany.
"We think it's disrespectful to comment on other clubs's players," Zorc said in quotes released to German media following the prematch news conference.
"There's no contact with Arsenal. We'd like to think that Arsene Wenger has enough on his plate with taking care of his own players' performances."
Stoger also said that as a coach he has "given up on dragging around hopes on players or scenarios," explaining "you are well-advised as a coach" to rather care about what can be changed in the short-term.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.