It is quite often that Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s contributions go unnoticed. The Gabon man is never part of the list of the best strikers in the world, despite having done so much. Maybe, Barcelona have now paid attention to that.
Since joining Arsenal in the January of 2018, Aubameyang has been impressive. He has had an involvement in 62 goal contributions in just 79 appearances. 50 of them have been goals and 12 have been assists.
That isn’t a bad number by any means. Not even some of the best strikers in world football can match that number. And Aubameyang has done that while majorly playing as an inside forward on the left flank.
With Arsenal currently not in the best form, interest from Barcelona has come up in recent days. 10Sport.com (via Marca) claim that the forward isn’t looking to extend his contract at the Emirates beyond the summer of 2021. Barcelona are keen on taking advantage of his unhappiness and cash in on their target.
Lautaro Martinez has also been on their radar, something that sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed last week. What should catch the attention of everyone is what new Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho had to say about Aubameyang and his abilities.
“I think Aubameyang probably he likes to play in the middle because he feels if he’s in the middle he can score more goals. But maybe he can score as many goals playing on the left. What happens at Liverpool is [Roberto] Firmino drops back, drops in between the lines, and then he gives more space for [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane to attack these diagonals. I would see Aubameyang playing on that left side of Liverpool and scoring a lot of goals.”
Indeed, Aubameyang’s style works very well in a free-flowing style. He doesn’t have to sit up front like a typical number nine. He moves about on the left or on the right, giving Alexandre Lacazette spaces to work in.
That free-roaming striker is what Barcelona need to replace an ageing Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan’s goal tally has come down since the 2016-17 season. In the 2015-16 season, he found the back of the net 40 times in the La Liga. Since then, the numbers have come down to 29, 25 and 21 last season.
The decline has been clear. He isn’t that complete striker anymore. He is slower and not as agile. But it would make little sense for Barca to shell out money on a 30-year-old to replace a 32-year-old, especially when they have drawn links with a 22-year-old in Lautaro. He is a workhorse striker playing in a 3-5-2 shape at Inter alongside Romelu Lukaku.
Getting Aubameyang would be good for shirt-sales and revenues, considering how marketable he is. But how long will the experiment last? 2 or 3 years only. And Barca would undoubtedly be paying big money for him.
Lautaro, on the other hand, has a release clause of €111 million. That is expensive for a 22-year-old. But it is an investment in potential. It is a deal that will reap long-term benefits and Suarez’s presence can smoothen the transition of him growing into the role.
More than that, Martinez knows Lionel Messi from their time together in the Argentine national team. They have shared the same pitch for the same nation many times and there is already a connection there.
More than that, Barcelona have Messi as the man who gets all the freedom and space to work with. That is one of the reasons why Philippe Coutinho was struggling at Barcelona. A player like Aubameyang wants to be free in the final third. But having Messi take that role would deny him that freedom. Which is why he has been thriving at Arsenal. He is the only chief goal-getter and the team revolves around him. Not anyone else.