Mikel Arteta has refused to confirm whether Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang broke coronavirus protocols by getting a tattoo – but insisted he will be punished internally if he is found to have done so.
Aubameyang has travelled to Rome, where Arsenal will face Benfica in the first leg of their round-of-32 Europa League tie due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
But the 31-year-old could yet find himself in hot water with the Gunners after a video released on Instagram showed the forward getting a tattoo.
Tattoo artist Alejandro Nicolas Bernal posted the social media clip on February 9 and in it the striker is seen to get a new design on his hand.
It is unclear when the incident took place and if there has been a breach of coronavirus rules given Bernal could be part of Aubameyang’s bubble.
Earlier this week an Arsenal spokesperson told the PA news agency: “We will speak to the player to remind him of his responsibilities and establish what has taken place.”
Arteta, speaking on the eve of the clash with Benfica, would not go into further detail and said the club would deal with any necessary disciplinary matters.
“Whatever we do with our players we keep it internally,” he said.
“It is true that there are a lot of members of our squad that have extended families at home and if any player does something that is not in the regulation obviously the club acts immediately but always privately as well.
“We try to advise every player and make sure they know all the rules and that we stick to those rules all the time and if someone doesn’t do it obviously we have to act immediately.
“I cannot tell you who every player lives with be we do (know) and when somebody does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, obviously it is going to be found out by us and there will be consequences and if not, there won’t be.”
While Aubameyang has travelled to Italy, midfielder Thomas Partey has not as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the recent defeat to Aston Villa.
“Thomas didn’t travel,” added Arteta.
“He is not there yet. He is still training individually. Kieran (Tierney) has had one session with us and he is part of the squad.”
With a visit of in-form Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday and the prospect of the ‘home’ leg of their clash with Benfica being played in Athens next Thursday, Arteta may look to rotate his squad.
“It is very unusual,” Arteta said of the dynamic of a tie with two neutral venues.
“But as much as we can we have to try and maintain the integrity of the competition and the only way to do that at the moment is to play in different venues but at least play it over two legs and with away goals, as well.”