As per El Chiringuito, Barcelona have joined Real Madrid in the race to secure the services of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January and further believe they’ve got a chance if the Gunners don’t qualify for Champions League this season.
Aubameyang has been lethal for Arsenal, since his move from Borussia Dortmund, scoring 50 goals and creating 12 assists in 78 appearances (Transfermarkt). But the North London club have failed to reach new heights and last season’s Premier League golden boot winner is believed to be considering a move in the summer.
The Catalans are aware of the situation at Arsenal and believe they won’t have to spend much to convince the striker to make the switch, having being starved of Champions League football since joining the club.
As per Transfermarkt, Aubameyang – whose contract runs till the summer of 2021 – will have a season left on his contract by the end of the current campaign. As well as fellow striker Alexander Lacazette – who may also be seeking greener pastures elsewhere.
Arsenal could still make a handful from both strikers, rather than risk letting them leave for free by the end of next season. That is, of course, if they fail to sign a new contract with the club.
Metro reports the chances of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette leaving are high, especially if manager Unai Emery remains at the club beyond the season.
Barca’s summer signing Antoine Griezmann is also struggling for form, which could push head coach Ernesto Valverde to contemplate a January move for the Arsenal striker rather than wait till the summer.
While the prospect of another world-class attacker joining the club is promising, a move for Aubameyang in January or even over the summer won’t be ideal and should be something Barcelona turn a blind eye to. The Gabon international ticks all the boxes of adding that finishing touch up front,but there are many other factors that would make him an unnecessary “golden tool” in the Barcelona lineup.
The obvious age factor
Now, let’s get back down to earth. Barca are actually looking for a replacement for ageing Suarez, right? Aubameyang turns 31 next year. Even if Arsenal’s asking price for their prized asset would not be exorbitant as his contract at the Emirates Stadium expires in 2021, the Gabonese’s move to Camp Nou seems to not solve the real problem of replacing Suarez. If anything, Barcelona should be going for a long-term replacement who can understudy Suarez from now until he hangs his boots, leaving the much younger striker to inherit his throne.
Hence, having Suarez, who turns 33 in January as well as Aubameyang who turns 31 at the end of the season (June) makes no real difference. Both players would still not be able to deliver that sense of stability as another replacement for Aubameyang will be on the cards again in say one year, should he move to the Camp Nou.
Replacing a 33-year-old with someone just a couple of years behind him seems unreasonable and would really profit no one (neither player nor the club).
Style of play
Aubameyang is a pretty direct player, a goal threat who does not take a huge load of chances but takes quality chances. Auba has thrived in teams like Dortmund and Arsenal which have fast build-up play and extremely attacking approach (bar the recent Emery struggles). Under Valverde, the approach has been that of quite a patient build-up.
Aubameyang is that kind of striker who can “vanish” on days when he isn’t scoring goals as he doesn’t tally many assists as well, having only 12 in his Arsenal career. Meaning on days when he doesn’t score goals, he can pretty much be a liability upfront.
Switch to Suarez who can be graceful to miss lots of chances as well but scores when you least expect him to, the difference is that the Uruguayan offers something to the team even when he doesn’t score. His link-up play with the Barca forwards upfront is second to none and it’s not surprising Suarez has bagged 97 assists in Catalan colours, just three shy of a century of assists (via Transfermarkt).
Based on that, Suarez still seems the better player/option to thrive at Barcelona, from a tactical point of view.
Clash of reputations and game-time dilemma
The reputations both strikers in Suarez and Aubameyang command will mean both players would want to identify as the “main man”. With both strikers being big names for their names, Valverde (or whoever is at the helm) would have a torrid time balancing the dynamics.
Aubameyang is already having to settle out on the flanks at Arsenal to accommodate teammate Alexandre Lacazette and it’s normal he would be unwilling to face the same fate at Barcelona once more. Moreso, Aubameyang is still ambitious at his age and is believed to be in search of Champions League football. So, except Barca switch to a 4-4-2 (which is very unlikely), one of both players would have to settle for less game-time and based on their reputations, it could lead to a tussle of heads upfront.
Suarez, after his brilliant years of service to Barca coupled with himself and Messi creating a strong relationship both on and off the pitch, would mean he might get the favour which could ultimately leave Aubameyang frustrated and possibly out on a swift exit as well.
Suarez and Aubameyang are strikers you call “exclusive” and except in special conditions, all focal play upfront must be centred around them and anything short of this would not be entertained by either party. Having two of them would be termed “unnecessary luxury”, which is something that has seen many Gunners divided in their reality of whether Arsenal do need Lacazette and Aubameyang at the same team.
Aubameyang will no doubt be a great addition and could even help solve many problems upfront. However, the “positive baggage” he comes with and their potential consequences to the Blaugrana squad simply highlight that he’s an unnecessary signing in any way.