It appears as though former Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set for a return to London, but not with the Gunners. Instead, he looks likely to join rivals Chelsea as part of a reunion with manager Thomas Tuchel – whom he played under in his time at Borussia Dortmund.
football.london understands the Blues are confident of getting a deal over the line for Aubameyang before the transfer window shuts next week. It comes just months after he left the Emirates Stadium as his contract was terminated by mutual consent, with a move to Barcelona coming shortly after as a free transfer.
Mikel Arteta ‘s relationship with the Gabon international appeared to have deteriorated when he didn’t return to training on time following an agreed trip for family matters. In the Amazon Prime special Arsenal: All or Nothing, the manager revealed he had a dossier full of the star’s “misdemeanours “.
As of now, it seems as though Barca are set to earn a transfer windfall of roughly £17million for the striker, suggesting that the Gunners may have missed out on doing the same had they kept him. However, sporting director Edu explained why he had to move on. Speaking back in July about the squad, the former midfielder told football.london:
“For me there are three elements which in my role I have to be really prepared to be strong on the message to the players,” he says. “When the player is 26-plus, (with a) big salary and he’s not performing, he’s killing you that kind of player because you don’t have a valuation to sell the player. The player is comfortable – Arsenal, London, beautiful, everything is fantastic – and a good salary. How do you move this player?
“So how many players with that kind of characteristics did we have in the past? 80% of the squad, that’s why I said to (the board) when I made my plan: guys, it’s not easy to clean the squad straight away because most of the players have a 2-3-4 year contract. We need a strategy, we need to try to change things.”
It was an issue the side faced with Aubameyang before letting him go, along with stars such as club-record signing Nicolas Pepe who recently left for OGC Nice on loan for the season. It remains to be seen if Chelsea will face that same issue in signing the former Arsenal captain, however it is a problem they know all too well.
A recent example is that of Romelu Lukaku , who made the club-record return to Stamford Bridge last summer. The Belgian didn’t have the impact sought after though, being demoted to the bench at times during the season and struggling to find the goals when they were needed.
The Belgian has since left the club on loan, rejoining Internazionale for the upcoming season. However, on his return Lukaku will still have three- years left on his deal and will be 30-years-old. With large wages, the Blues may have to find a way to get him firing or to move him on as they face the same issues Arsenal have done before.
The Gunners have done well to clear out the majority of those problems, but Chelsea may face it again if Aubameyang is unable to find his goal scoring boots.