Soccer

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang weighs up Chelsea switch

PETE JENSON: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proved he still has his goalscoring touch at Barcelona… but with Robert Lewandowski now the main man, a reunion with old boss Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea could appeal

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang impressed in the second half of last season
  • However, Barcelona still went out and signed Robert Lewandowski this summer
  • It now looks like Aubameyang’s opportunities will be limited at Barcelona
  • Chelsea have registered an interest in signing the Gabon international
  • The early indications are that Aubameyang wants to stay at Barcelona
  • Yet a reunion with Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea could still be on the cards 

Sometimes no matter what you do, it’s never going to be enough. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored 11 goals in 13 league starts after joining Barcelona last January – his reward was for the club to sign Robert Lewandowski.

You can see it from Barcelona’s point of view – Lewandowski is an upgrade in terms of season-after-season consistency, but it’s still hard on the Gabon striker who did pretty much everything right at Barcelona last season including score twice at the Bernabeu as Barça beat Real Madrid 4-0.

If Aubameyang’s form tailed off slightly in the last games it was understandable – the club did nothing but talk up the expected arrival of his replacement. And Lewandowski is very much Aubameyang’s replacement, there can be little doubt about that.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shone at Barcelona in the second half of last season

The club have since signed Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich, though

The Pole is coming to play every game. He is not going to be happy if he’s rested so that Aubameyang can stay sharp.

And at this stage of his career the 33-year-old forward is not the same force when shifted out wide to accommodate a new centre-forward, he needs to be the team’s number nine to be at his best.

The degree to which Chelsea are driving the pursuit of Aubameyang has be judged against the backdrop of Barcelona’s desperation to sell any player to them, in part because it will help them lever Cesar Azpilicueta out of the club and to the Camp Nou.

They want Chelsea to buy Frenkie De Jong, and having originally offered them Memphis Depay and failed to provoke interest they would be happy to send them Aubameyang even if Xavi likes the idea of having the Gabon international on call if his main front man picks up an injury.

It now seems Aubameyang’s game time will be limited if he stays at Barcelona

What has been surprising so far this summer is that other clubs have not asked after Aubameyang, in view of the way his path to regular first team football is now blocked.

His record last season and his ability to fit into the way Barcelona played was impressive.

Having, seemingly, been the biggest problem at Arsenal he became the most effective solution at Barcelona. Xavi had Barça playing quick transition football right from the start but he lacked a finisher to turn chances into goals.

As Aubameyang showed at the Santiago Bernabeu and around the grounds in Spain, he was that man.

Aubameyang is enjoying his time at Barcelona, and is a popular figure at the club

He became a hit in the dressing room too. As the Barcelona players bounced up and down in celebration after thrashing Real Madrid Aubameyang was right at the centre of the party with one arm around Eric Garcia and another around one of the club’s kit-men. They were singing ‘Being at Barça is the best there is’, and you can guarantee he meant every word.

A weight had lifted from his shoulders when he left Arsenal after a lack of form and disciplinary issues cost him the captaincy and eventually his place in the team.

‘We had a disciplinary issue,’ admitted Mikel Arteta after dropping him for one north London derby. Pictures of the player’s £2million chrome-wrapped LaFerrari stuck in London traffic suggested lateness had been a problem and returning back late from a trip to visit his unwell mother in France also upset people.

All that had been put behind him in record time. Barcelona struggled to register Aubameyang with the league (a familiar story) but because he was a free-agent when he moved he signed up two days after the window had shut and he went off like a rocket with an immediate understanding established with former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Ousmane Dembele.

Barcelona were only able to sign him because he had taken a sizeable pay cut for his first season accepting their proposal to pay him a third of the £300,000 he was on at Arsenal.

He could reunite with Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea if the Blues step up their interest in him

The degree to which he would want to be back on ‘London money’ at Chelsea could be a stumbling block to see him ending up at Stamford Bridge.

The early signs are that he is saying he does not want to leave. He is happy in Barcelona but it’s hard to see how the right financial package and the promise that he’ll be playing and not watching Lewandowski from the sidelines won’t change his mind. Especially if Thomas Tuchel makes it clear he wants him.

In the past Tuchel has admitted to enjoying coaching Aubameyang at Dortmund albeit while needing to tell him to be out on the training pitch at 10.45 if the session started at 11 so as to get around his apparently habitual lateness.

Aubameyang went through the 30 goals barrier playing for the now Chelsea manager. He showed last season under Xavi that he has not lost the goalscoring ability – it just wasn’t enough to stop the club signing Lewandowski.




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