Borussia Dortmund have suspended and plan to fine striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for disciplinary reasons after the club’s 0-0 home draw with Wolfsburg on Sunday, sporting director Michael Zorc confirmed.
Aubameyang, 28, has scored 13 goals in 15 Bundesliga appearances this season, but was absent when the teams were announced for their home game against Wolfsburg on Sunday as the German league restarted after the winter break.
Dortmund tweeted the news but did not explain what had happened initially, though Bild reported that he had missed a team briefing after Saturday’s training session.
However, coach Peter Stoger confirmed the report, saying: “It was an important meeting. If he does not want to be part of that, another player will be get his chance. He briefly said that he forgot it, but we all know that’s not the case.”
And Zorc further explained the decision to omit Aubameyang to ESPN FC after the match.
“Yesterday, after the team training, the team had a joint meal and afterwards an important team briefing that did not only concern today’s match but also more general aspects, like our common goals and a code of conduct — and he failed to appear.”
Zorc added: “We held very intense talks with him today and ultimately suspended him. Obviously, also monetary sanctions will ensue. Tomorrow, the coach will welcome him back in training.”
Asked, whether Aubameyang may have taken a page out of Ousmane Dembele’s book, who successfully forced a move to Barcelona by staying away from team training, Zorc replied: “I don’t know about that, I rather stick to facts than surmising. Though I have to view this in a different context now, as it is not the first misdemeanour of this sort.”
Aubameyang was also temporarily suspended in November, with Zorc revealing that punctuality problems had led to the action. Bild reported that the striker had been repeatedly late for training, including turning up 20 minutes late for final preparations ahead of the trip to Stuttgart. The striker was also suspended in November 2016 when he missed a 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League for an unapproved trip to Milan against then-coach Thomas Tuchel’s wishes.
“Currently, I don’t know what is going through his mind,” Zorc said: “I do not recognise him anymore, I have to frankly say. Over the years, he was always an extroverted guy but also always served as a prime example for professionalism. He has always worked disciplined and professionally but I cannot detect that at the moment.
“[Aubameyang's] explanation that he had forgotten the team meeting does not count in my eyes. Again, it’s not always easy for us to deal with that. After all, he has a hand in about 50 percent of our goals but at some point certain behaviour is no longer tolerable.”
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki described Aubameyang’s behaviour as “idiotic,” telling Sky after the match that he fully supports the club’s decision to suspend him.
Burki said: “The rules apply to every player regardless of how many goals he scores or prevents. The rules have to be followed and I think he knows that. [His suspension] was a logical decision.”
Asked, if the team would welcome Aubameyang back with open arms or rather with scepticism going forward, Burki responded: “Of course we would welcome him with open arms again. All this is not because of his performances in training. He always gives his best in training.
“We need him, that once again became evident today. It would be pitiful if he was to miss more games due to such idiotic behaviour.”
Aubameyang’s absence stung double on Sunday night, as Dortmund’s abject finishing kept them separated from all three points against Wolfsburg.