This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has suggested to Suddeutsche Zeitung that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left the club to join Arsenal because of a desire for money.
The Gabon international spent four-and-a-half years with the Bundesliga outfit after joining from Saint-Etienne in 2013, and moved to the Gunners in January of 2018 for a fee of £55.4m, which at the time was a club-record sum.
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It appears that Watzke is still bitter over his departure, and has attacked his motives of moving to north London.
He told the German outlet: “Of course it is hard to keep a player in the face of such sums. Some go to clubs because of this money, where they have not played Champions League for years.
“[Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, who plays great at Arsenal, will probably be warm-hearted when he looks at his bank account, but on Wednesdays will be saddened when he has to watch the Champions League on television.”
Why the 60-year-old has chosen now to share his displeasure with the striker’s exit is baffling. The 30-year-old left the Signal-Iduna Park 18 months ago, and Dortmund are aiming to win the Bundesliga title this term for the first time since 2012.
After triumphing just once in the last four league matches, perhaps that is something the club’s hierarchy should be concentrating on rather than an ex-player’s decision to leave.
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Above all, though, Aubameyang deserves more respect. His form in the Ruhr region was quite simply scintillating.
In 213 games, he netted 141 goals, with him twice scoring 25 or over in the Bundesliga – don’t forget, they only play 34 games a season. Not only that, he helped fire the team to the German Cup in 2017 during a period where Bayern were arguably close to their best.
There is surely another reason why he felt it was time to move on, too. During the 2016/17 campaign, his last at the club, the Bavarians won the title by a huge 15 points, with Dortmund in third 18 points off the top.
Not that you can blame Aubameyang for that – he won the Bundesliga Golden Boot by bagging an astonishing 31 goals in 32 matches.
When Aubameyang left the following season in January, Dortmund were 19 points off their big rivals with only 20 matches played. Once again, the forward had impressed, scoring 13 in 16 in the league. The problem was that the side just weren’t competitive.
Granted, Arsenal haven’t exactly been much better, but they did make the Europa League final last term.
And anyway, it can’t be argued that the Premier League is not of a higher quality than its German counterpart. The players who play there receive big wages, yes, but it is bigger test of one’s ability than what the German top-flight can offer.
All in all, it is incredibly harsh to effectively call him a money-grabber, especially considering his performances for the club. It is likely that Watzke will not consider this to be his finest moment in hindsight.