A fresh name has entered the contest to be one of Chelsea’s back-up strikers to Diego Costa. Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has indicated that he is keen to leave the German club after just one season there, having failed to secure a starting spot at the club.
The 24 year-old Gabonese international joined Dortmund from St Etienne last summer, as the club looked to replace Bayern Munich-bound Robert Lewandowski. Lewandowski was set to play another season for Dortmund, winding down his contract before joining the German champions on a free transfer.
Aubameyang unsurprisingly failed to dislodge Lewandowski from the first-team, but might have felt his time was about to come this season after the Polish player’s departure – until the German club went ahead and bought Italian international striker Ciro Immobile. Comments emerging from the club at the time of the signing make it clear that Immobile was very much their first choice.
Aubameyang has interested Chelsea before. Jose Mourinho inquired about the striker last month only to be told he was not for sale. Now, reports in France suggest, that has changed and the club are willing to let the player leave.
It would be fair to say he has not set the world alight at Dortmund, despite scoring a hat-trick on his debut. However, his goal ratio is good – 16 goals in 37 appearances last season – and he impressed at his previous club with 39 goals in two seasons. He’s a tricky, pacy forward who can also operate on the wing. And it’s unlikely to cost a great deal to bring him in, as he reportedly has a release clause in his contract of just £6 million.
Against that, however, Aubameyang’s statistics aren’t particularly impressive. He takes fewer shots per game than any of Chelsea’s existing strikers, provides fewer assists and – perhaps crucially in a Mourinho team – is dispossessed more often and loses more tackles.
If Chelsea really are after him, they face competition from another Premier League side – Newcastle United. The Geordies need to replace Loic Remy, who spent last season at St James’ Park on loan from QPR but has now returned to West London. Newcastle were interested in signing him last summer before he chose Dortmund instead. Now they are apparently preparing to resurrect a possible bid for him.
Newcastle would seem a more obvious destination for the Gabonese player. His unhappiness stems from being unable to nail down a starting place at Borussia Dortmund, so it seems unlikely that he would be content at Chelsea where he is most likely to spend his time coming off the bench. Besides, his dubious pedigree looks more like that of a Newcastle player than a Chelsea one. It’s hard to see how he could be regarded as an upgrade on any of Chelsea’s strikeforce.
There is one other very good reason to hope that Aubameyang doesn’t end up at Stamford Bridge. He once wore a £2,500 pair of football boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. For a warm-up game. Clearly a player with his feet firmly rooted a long, long way from the ground.