“I don’t know what’s going on inside his head. We had a very contentious discussion today. We’re not used to this behaviour from him. It can’t go on like this.”

After four-and-a-half years, the relationship between Borussia Dortmund and star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appears to have broken down, as sporting director Michael Zorc explained to the press after BVB’s recent 0-0 draw at home to Wolfsburg, a game for which the Gabonese forward was internally suspended. “At some point you can’t tolerate it [lack of discipline from Aubameyang] anymore,” Zorc said.

This wasn’t the first time Aubameyang has been dropped from the matchday squad for issues of ill-discipline. In fact, it was the fourth. On this occasion, a failure to attend a team meeting designed to foster a greater spirit and cohesion within the Dortmund first team was the reason. In the past, there have been fallouts with coaches and unauthorised trips to Milan.

The fact that the 28-year-old’s latest indiscretion comes amid speculation that Arsenal are about to move for Aubameyang has added fuel to the flames of discontent at Signal Iduna Park, with a feeling that this time, after several false dawns, the Bundesliga side will soon finally wave goodbye to the striker. Or should that be good riddance?

On the pitch, there can be little fault found in Aubameyang’s efforts at Dortmund. Signed from Saint-Étienne in the summer of 2013, he initially made his mark as right winger, but made a central shift when Robert Lewandowski left to join rivals Bayern Munich a year later. Aubameyang’s quick adaptation to his new role, returning 25 goals in 2014/15, meant BVB were able to move on from what, by rights, should have been a crushing loss of a world-class player.

In the following campaigns, Aubameyang bagged 39 and 40 goals, and has retuned 21 from 23 games so far this term. With such a prolific record in front of goal, there can be no doubt that the France-born Gabon international is among the world’s premier centre-forwards.

But there has been a lasing feeling of temporariness attached to the former AC Milan prodigy’s Bundesliga stay. Linked with big-money moves elsewhere in each of the last five transfer windows and never shy about stating his long-held ambition to play for Real Madrid, there has always been a sense Aubameyang had one eye on his next career step, that, for him, Dortmund was a means to an end.

Manchester City, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain have all taken a long look at Aubameyang in recent seasons, but, for whatever reason, no move materialised. This month, acting partly out of desperation, having lost Alexis Sánchez to Manchester United and faced with the prospect of another season outside the Champions League, Arsenal are thought to be willing to meet Dortmund’s €60 million valuation of the striker. It’s not the Bernabéu move the player dreams of, and the Gunners may be at pains to fork out such a fee for a player who turns 29 in June, but it is a case of needs must for both parties.

“I support it. It was a logical decision,” goalkeeper Roman Bürki told Sky Sport of Aubameyang’s temporary banishment for the Wolfsburg fixture, giving the impression the BVB players are not especially enthralled with the No.17 at this stage. “There are rules which apply to every player, regardless of how many goals he scores or prevents. It would be a shame if he missed out again due to his stupid actions.”

Ultimately, Aubameyang will leave behind a conflicting, confusing legacy at Dortmund. One of high performance, huge technical and tactical development, and the goals that powered one of Europe’s most consistently entertaining teams over the last five seasons. But also one of immaturity, isolation and always wanting to be somewhere else.

By Ryan Baldi