Borussia Dortmund insisted that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a future at the club, even though he was left out of the squad for Friday’s 1-1 Bundesliga draw at Hertha Berlin.
Aubameyang, the top scorer in the German top flight last season, was also dropped for last Sunday’s goalless draw at home to Wolfsburg.
Dortmund coach Peter Stoeger took the decision to leave out the Gabon international again amid reports he is chasing a move to Premier League side Arsenal, who look set to lose forward Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United.
“There is nothing concrete on the table, only a lot of air,” Dortmund director of sport Michael Zorc told Eurosport when asked about the Arsenal rumours.
“We’re planning with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and there’s a way back into the team for him, but professionalism is part of that.
“That includes saying you’ve made a mistake in one situation or another.”
Aubameyang is being disciplined by Dortmund for the third time in 16 months after he missed a team meeting last weekend.
Stoeger said the 28-year-old can still win back his place in the team for next weekend’s home match against Freiburg.
“All week long he was good at training, which is why I said at my press conference that he would be in the team,” former Cologne coach Stoeger said after the game in Berlin.
“But at the last practice I just felt like he wasn’t fully focused. It was a very important match and we have so many quality players that I chose another one.
“But I select the group every week. He has time to show he wants it. If he gives everything next week, he’ll be in the squad.”
– Dortmund wasteful again –
A second straight draw saw Dortmund miss the chance to move, temporarily at least, into second in the Bundesliga, as Stoeger’s side again missed Aubameyang’s eye for goal.
Andre Schuerrle, who started up front in Aubameyang’s place, admitted the speculation has unsettled the Dortmund team.
“We have had a lot of internal meetings about it, it’s annoying as it’s not about football and I hope it will be decided soon,” said the Germany international.
Following a goalless first half at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, hosts Hertha took the lead just 42 seconds after the break.
Valentino Lazaro put in a cross from the left wing and Berlin striker Davie Selke slid the ball into the net after Dortmund defender Sokratis was exposed for pace.
Having fallen behind, Dortmund upped the pressure with US international Christian Pulisic forcing home goalkeeper Thomas Kraft into a save.
Hertha had the ball in the net again on 62 minutes when Ondrej Duda tapped home, but the midfielder was offside when Salomon Kalou provided the final pass.
Dortmund brought on Swedish teenager Alexander Isak to play up front for the final 23 minutes.
The switch paid off as Isak and England Under-19 forward Jadon Sancho helped win possession deep in the Berlin half.
Sancho’s initial cross was blocked, but the 17-year-old picked out Shinji Kagawa at the second attempt and the Japan midfielder headed home the equaliser with 19 minutes remaining.
Sancho, making only his second Bundesliga start since joining from Manchester City in August, fired wide after combining with Isak in the final ten minutes.
With the clock ticking down, Dortmund left-back Jeremy Toljan forced Kraft into a diving save while Isak saw his shot palmed onto the crossbar.
Dortmund appealed for a penalty in the dying stages when substitute Andriy Yarmolenko, on for Pulisic, was brought down, but the referee waved play on.
The draw leaves Dortmund third as Stoeger remains unbeaten in his four league games in charge.