Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said he sympathised with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the striker lost his Arsenal captaincy, saying on Wednesday that he would reach out to his former player when the time is right.
Aubameyang, 32, was stripped of the captaincy on Tuesday for a disciplinary breach and manager Mikel Arteta said he would not be considered for selection when they take on West Ham United later on Wednesday.
Tuchel coached Aubameyang when they were at Borussia Dortmund for two seasons, the most prolific of the Gabon striker's career when he scored 79 goals.
"I will (reach out) at some point, but I don't want also to disturb. I think that he was a very important player for me, we had a very close relationship," Tuchel told reporters ahead of Thursday's home game against Everton.
"When we meet it's still always very nice, I can only say the best things about Auba as a player and a person. I feel sorry for him that he's in trouble, this isn't where he should be with his kind of quality and the positive character that he has.
"But I'm not involved in what's going on in his club now... I want to also show my respect and not be involved and judge what is right and wrong."
Tuchel said midfielder N'Golo Kante would be back on the bench while Trevor Chalobah is also in the squad with only Mateo Kovacic (COVID-19) and Ben Chilwell (knee injury) unavailable for selection.
After a strong start to the season, Chelsea have slipped in recent weeks, losing top spot in the standings. Tuchel's side sit third and have not kept a clean sheet in their last five matches in all competitions.
"It shows us we were spoilt. It shows hard it is, teaches us this lesson. Maybe we over-expect clean sheets from us," Tuchel said.
"In the last three games, we've conceded eight goals and this is more concerning than having a clean sheet because to have clean sheets in the competitions we play, you need luck, an extraordinary goalkeeper, a certain momentum.
"This is what we had at the beginning of the season to escape sometimes."
Tuchel said he hoped left back Ben Chilwell will not require surgery and that the club will wait to see how the situation develops before deciding if they need cover for the position.
Chilwell has not featured for Chelsea since he picked up the knee injury in their 4-0 Champions League win over Juventus in November.
"We are having a look at players and it being possible to get them in winter, there's a big gap between these two situations," Tuchel said. "The best option would be that Ben continues his positive evaluation.
"He is in a good place mentally and physically. He did some running, and everything looks good. So, hopes are still up but we cannot confirm that."
Tuchel said the club would take their time to assess the situation before bringing in any cover for the position.
"First, we be sure what we do with Ben. Then we decide if we go for internal solutions and if we trust we can overcome this period," he added.
"Everything depends on Ben Chilwell and how long he is out."
Chelsea, who are third in the Premier League, host Everton later on Thursday before a trip to face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.