A short while ago, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bought a new house in Dortmund, a massive one with an underground swimming pool connecting two separate buildings. At least that’s what Bild claimed, hoping to give a new spin to the story of the wantaway striker.
But there is no way to spin this story. As things stand, and as all recent interviews with the Gabon international suggest, the 27-year-old is set to leave the Westfalenstadion this summer, after four years with over 100 competitive goals in less than 200 games.
He will go down as one of the best players in Borussia Dortmund’s history and will surely cost the most that anyone has spent on a player from the club, but what’s next for Aubameyang? Where will he be practising his trademark somersault celebrations from next season?
It’s a fancy idea. Aubameyang would not only become of the best-paid players in world, but would lift the reputation of the Chinese Super League, which has already picked up Boca’s Carlos Tevez, Chelsea’s Oscar and Zenit’s Axel Witsel recently.
No-one in the CSL would be near the extravaganza the Dortmund attacker represents. But, even for all the money in the world, China will not be the Gabon international’s next stop. Aside from the recent clampdown on foreign players by the Chinese government, the player himself needs the spotlight, he needs the pressure of the big games, and he can only flourish where all of the world is watching him. There is no glamour in China, not right now.
Over a period of only four years, three BVB stars have left the Westfalenstadion for their biggest domestic rivals Bayern Munich. Aubameyang will not follow. In fact, he has already ruled out a possible switch, saying he’d never hurt the fans. He left AS Saint-Etienne without any bad vibes, and will do so again at Dortmund.
Moreover, with Robert Lewandowski’s recent contract extension at Bayern, there is just no place for him in the current set-up. Ever since the Poland international’s departure from Dortmund, Aubameyang has matured from a fleet-footed winger into a scoring machine inside the box.
These days, Bayern play with one central attacker and two wingers. And the only thing that could lure the Bundesliga powerhouse into making an offer would be the idea of weakening their opponents. There is really no need for that, and Dortmund would be reluctant to sell were the Bavarian’s hierarchy to present an offer anyway.
We’ve all read the heartbreaking story of Aubameyang’s late grandfather and the attacker’s promise to one day wear the white jersey. And despite recent reports that Zinedine Zidane might prefer a different type of player up front, he would be a perfect fit at the Bernabeu. The ABC (Aubameyang, Bale, Cristiano) attack would be one of the most glamorous in the game, and 27, he still has four, maybe five more years in him to play at the highest level.
Real Madrid would get a professional who is as committed as Cristiano Ronaldo, who is hungry for goals and has shown he can make the difference on the big stage while also adding to his record with goal feasts against smaller club. Dortmund would be more than happy to sell to Real, with BVB’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke boasting about his friendship with Los Blancos chief Florentino Perez. This, right now, looks like the most likely option for Aubameyang. But there are others.
Right! Aubameyang has been linked with a return to France and, of course, PSG have the money to offer the player big wages and Dortmund a big fee for losing their biggest asset. At Dortmund, he’s made waves for his fashion style off the pitch and, despite having family ties in Italy, a move to Paris might as well satisfy those needs.
However, it is questionable whether Aubameyang would want to take a step back from a sporting perspective. Sure, this term, and unlike in Germany in recent years, the race for the Ligue 1 is still on and PSG are not even in the pole position. But he could make a deeper run in the Champions League with Dortmund than with PSG.
A transfer to Paris might happen should the club decide to revamp their attack in the summer, but would Aubameyang settle for a place out wide if Edison Cavani stays? A potential offer could also only be used to stir up a bidding war.
Good call. Pep Guardiola arrived in Germany at the same as Aubameyang, and his seen the vast potential as he followed Dortmund’s fortunes during his time at Bayern Munich.
Only this week, report suggested that the Manchester City manager has included him in his summer transfer plans. He could use Aubameyang in a similar role that he used Lewandowski at Bayern, sometimes playing him in central attack, then forcing him out to the flanks to collect the ball.
For all of Aubameyang’s glamour, he is eager to learn and is willing to adapt to new ideas. He has seen what Guardiola can do with the right set of players, and could continue to grow in the Premier League spotlight — the most followed league in the world.
There are other clubs, too, in England. Having ruled out a switch to Liverpool (and reunion with Jurgen Klopp), he might well be attracted by the idea of becoming a central man in Arsene Wenger’s plans at Arsenal, replacing Diego Costa at Chelsea, or helping to take the pressure off Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. But it depends which club puts up the cash.