Barcelona’s recruitment has taken a lot of criticism over the years. Rightly so, they’ve wasted a lot of money on signings that have come and gone without making much of an impact. The aftermath of that has been seen this season. But the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will not be a one that gives them criticism.
Carles Perez being moved on, Luis Suarez’s injury and Ousmane Dembele’s injury left Barca to sign an emergency striker in Martin Braithwaite. While it is too early to say if that move has made an impact or not, it didn’t put the club’s recruitment in good light. They need to avoid that in the future.
What Aubameyang brings to the plate is not just goals. He adds immense versatility to the plate as well. At Arsenal this season, 17 of his appearances have come as the striker. But under Mike Arteta, he has often been playing on the left or on the right many times. He likes to get inside from wide areas and score goals. In fact, it is his goal return that has leading online bookmaker bettingsites.ng pricing him at 4/1 to win the Premier League Golden Boot if the season restarts.
He is far from being someone who constantly plays upfront. But when he does, he likes to run in behind the last defender and score goals. As the striker, he has scored nine goals in 17 appearances this season. He has contributed to 74 goals in his whole Arsenal career and the whole stint has seen him play across the front-three.
He does have pace on the ball that allows him to take defenders on and beat them. He is someone who doesn’t dribble as much. He gets at the end of crosses and from the opposite flank and scores goals. He, as a completes only 0.5 dribbles per 90 minutes. But that is hardly something Barcelona would be interested in.
Aubameyang is currently playing in a possession-based and technical system under Arteta. They play a free-flowing brand of football and like to keep hold of the ball. It isn’t overly similar to what Quique Setien likes, but it is somewhat similar in terms of approach. The players have more of the ball than a pragmatic system and in that sense, Aubameyang would not find issues settling in.
Lionel Messi is seen dropping deep under Setien and in-general. That requires someone like Suarez to stay forward and stretch the backline. Aubameyang’s running in-behind does exactly that. And that is perhaps why Messi and Suarez linking up is so crucial to Barcelona.
Antoine Griezmann has been playing as the regular striker in the absence of Suarez. But he is far from being that sort of a forward. He is someone who likes to get on the ball like Messi than the opposite- something Aubameyang brings.
Dembele’s issues about discipline and attitude continue to linger on. And if he does leave, Aubameyang can come in as someone who can play out wide in Setien’s 4-3-3 shape. In his narrow 4-3-1-2 shape, the Gabonese can play centrally beside Messi and stretch the opposition defences.
His age can be a concern. But there is historic proof that strikers like Aubameyang last longer. He can play the role that someone like Jamie Vardy plays- make swift darts in-behind and get on the ball less often than someone like Harry Kane or Karim Benzema. Vardy is ageing but still scoring goals.
Aubameyang’s current deal runs out in the summer of 2021. Signs aren’t positive that he will sign an extension. Barcelona need to cash in and sign him soon.