Not only are Borussia Dortmund prepared to sell Aubameyang – they have even named their price, €70 million (£61.5m), and have lined up replacements – but he is also keen to leave the club and test himself elsewhere. Yet there is no queue of suitors for a player who has scored 79 goals in the last two seasons, despite his widely acknowledged availability.
Aubameyang’s price tag may seem excessive, but in the current market it should be considered a bargain. It is significantly less than the frankly astounding £100m Everton are quoting for Romelu Lukaku, while Manchester United’s hopes of landing Alvaro Morata are being held up by Real Madrid’s desire to get a fee as close to the £75.3m Juventus paid for Gonzalo Higuain.
In north London, meanwhile, Arsenal have been told to stump up £54m for Alexandre Lacazette – just £7.5m less than Aubameyang would cost – while the total absence of any striker targets at Anfield is becoming an increasing concern for Liverpool.
All the while, Aubameyang is waiting on the sidelines, considered by many clubs as a backup target rather than their primary concern. But it should be the other way around. The Gabon international is tailor-made for the Premier League and significantly more complete and established than other targets being chased.
Quite apart from his goals – he netted 31 times in 32 Bundesliga appearances last season – he offers a potent blend of searing pace, clever movement and tenacious defensive work, evolving into a thoroughbred goalscorer under Thomas Tuchel. The coach’s departure will surely only strengthen Aubameyang’s desire to leave, having made huge strides under his tutelage even if they sometimes had their differences.
The German tactician gave him a more prominent, central role than that afforded to him by Jurgen Klopp, who initially deployed him on the flanks – though admittedly he was in competition with Robert Lewandowski for a time. He improved his finishing thanks to a combination of greater confidence, better chance creation and smarter decision-making in the final third, even out-scoring the Bayern Munich striker last season as he developed into perhaps Europe’s most dangerous poacher in and around the six-yard box.
In Lacazette, the Gunners are targeting a player Arsene Wenger has turned down the opportunity to sign multiple times in the past and who is well below Olivier Giroud in the French national team pecking order. At Liverpool, Mohamed Salah may be on his way but there is a staggering absence of goals, especially with Daniel Sturridge expected to depart.
The irony is that Aubameyang is perfect for both sides. Tuchel’s Dortmund played a very similar brand of football to Arsenal, coaching the attack to create high quality chances inside the box, particularly from pull-backs.