With Borussia Dortmund urging clubs to come forward and pay the cash they want for star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan are all said to be pursuing the Gabonese striker.
And rightly so.
Aubemayang, 28, was the leading scorer in the Bundesliga last season with 31 goals in 32 games, but as well as his supreme finishing ability he offers a focal point in attack. That’s something Chelsea could badly do with as Diego Costa’s exit edges closer following his latest antics, while potential moves for Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti all seem increasingly complex.
Costa’s situation has provided Chelsea with an issue they need to sort out quickly, and Dortmund’s CEO wants Aubameyang’s future quickly as clubs line up to sign him.
Would Aubameyang be a good signing for Chelsea at $91.5 million? That’s not quite value for money when you think that’s just $5 million less than Manchester United paid for Romelu Lukaku and he is five years younger than Aubameyang.
Yet, if Chelsea can negotiate that down to $80 million or so, then they will have a player who not only delivers goals — he has scored 120 goals in 189 games in all competitions for Dortmund over the past four seasons — but one that would fit into their system perfectly.
Sure, Aubameyang has never played in the Premier League before and we all know how hit and miss it can be with strikers adjusting to the PL after playing elsewhere in Europe for most of their career. Yet nothing about Aubemyang’s considerable sample size suggests that he will struggle physically in the PL as can often the case with foreign imports.
Developing under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, Aubameyang has improved year on year and he can score all types of goals and is a pure poacher. His work rate may not be as incessant as Costa’s but he is arguably more clinical than the Spaniard and is more mobile to stretch defenses and create spaces for Chelsea’s other attackers.
With the trend of Premier League clubs heading to the Bundesliga for players over the past few years, the style of play in Germany’s top-flight is incredibly comparable to the style of the PL and the risk of a player failing to acclimatize to England appears to be diminished. Aubameyang has offered an option in-behind for Dortmund over the past four seasons, while he is also able to hold the ball up and get on the end of crosses, scoring six headers in the Bundesliga last season.
The way Chelsea have used Diego Costa, and Didier Drogba before him, is the same way Dortmund have used Aubameyang to great success since he arrived from Saint-Etienne in 2013. Putting quick, skilled attackers around a target man isn’t a new thing, but it’s difficult to do it well.
Chelsea does it well and has everything in place in attack with Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas able to put chances on a plate for a forward and with Aubameyang trending upwards over the past three seasons (he has scored at least 25 in each campaign, scoring more goals in each season) you can speculate he’d score over 30 goals in all competitions.
That’s worth $85 million, right?
Aubameyang is said to fancy a move back to AC Milan, the club where he came through the youth ranks before spending several seasons out on loan and then starring at Dortmund, but it’s clear from looking at his numbers, style of play and potential combinations, Chelsea should make a big push to sign him.
With Morata, Belotti, Sanchez and Aguero all more expensive and unlikely, targeting Aubameyang is the smart play. Chelsea have had success late in the window over the past few seasons but Dortmund want Aubameyang out soon. That could play in to Conte’s hands.