Speculation surrounding the future of Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been floating around for some time now, but fresh reports suggest the 30-year-old striker has edged closer to leaving the Emirates this summer.
The ongoing cancellation of all sport is taking its toll on football clubs, and even the biggest teams in the Premier League aren’t immune to the financial implications. Arsenal players have already agreed to take a pay cut, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract discussions have also been effected.
The Gabonese forward earns around £200,000 per week and was expecting an improved deal to be on the table this summer, but the current uncertainty has seen talks over a new contract put on hold.
With just over a year left on his current deal, the Gunners’ hierarchy are thought to have no choice but to listen to transfer offers for their prize asset.
Where could Aubameyang go?
He may be on the wrong side of 30, but Aubameyang will have no shortage of suitors if he is put up for sale.
The former Borussia Dortmund star has scored 61 goals in 97 appearances for Arsenal since his January 2018 move to the Emirates and he has scored at least 15 league goals in eight of the last nine seasons.
Ever since his career defining move to Borussia Dortmund he has averaged a goal every 1.53 games in all competitions and he has proven his goalscoring prowess in three of Europe’s top five leagues.
But what are his main options?
Arsenal’s London-based rivals Chelsea have emerged as fresh contenders for Aubameyang’s signature, with the Blues thought to be closely monitoring the situation as they desperately search for a new striker.
Tammy Abraham is Chelsea’s main striker ahead of Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi, and there is little doubt that Aubameyang would be a substantial upgrade given his record. His advancing years would also provide reassurance to Abraham that he is very much a part of Chelsea’s future.
Aubameyang’s position within the Chelsea squad isn’t in question, though. It’s more a case of whether Arsenal would be willing to sell their star player to a domestic rival, and there are still numerous reports linking Chelsea to Lyon’s Moussa Dembele and RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner.
He would be a good fit for Chelsea, but from Arsenal’s point of view selling Aubameyang to their rivals would be a last resort.
Inter Milan are another club that have been thrown into the rumour mill surrounding Aubameyang, with reports from Italy suggesting he could be about to join the Antonio Conte revolution at the San Siro.
He could certainly do a job in Serie A, but whether the current Inter team can accommodate Aubameyang is another question entirely. Romelu Lukuku has been on fire since moving from Manchester United, finding the net 17 times in 25 Serie A appearances.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Lautaro Martinez is fast becoming one of the hottest properties in world football. Of course, Martinez himself is being monitored by a plethora of clubs, but if he does stay at Inter it’s hard to imagine them shelling out for Arsenal’s star man.
That being said, if Martinez parts ways with Conte a move for Aubameyang starts to look a lot more creditable.
Barcelona were absolutely desperate for a striker in January, a notion made clear by their controversially sanctioned late signing of Martin Braithwaite.
The 28-year-old Denmark international isn’t exactly the big name many Barcelona fans were expecting, and it’s probably fair to say that his stay at the Camp Nou won’t be a lengthy one.
So, the Catalan giants are still desperate for a striker as age takes its toll on Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Antoine Griezmann hasn’t exactly been a hit in his first season either, while Ousmane Dembele is still frequenting the physio’s treatment table and Ansu Fati is a few years off first team level.
The path is clear for Aubameyang to make himself a Camp Nou hero, and he wouldn’t be the first. Thierry Henry was the same age as Aubameyang when he famously switched London for Barcelona and went on to play a key role in their historic treble, scoring 49 goals in 121 appearances from the left wing during his three-year spell there.
Barcelona seems like the natural next step for Aubameyang and, with the La Liga leaders still on the hunt for a forward, sunny Spain certainly seems a likely destination.