Now that the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal with Manchester United is all wrapped up, Arsenal’s attention in the transfer market has turned to a potential deal for Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The attacker supposedly wants to leave Dortmund but the Bundesliga outfit are reportedly asking for more than £50m before they’ll part way with the 28-year-old.
The big question is whether Arsenal should pay such a large fee for someone in their late 20’s. Can they can get their money’s worth? We’ve asked a handful of our writers for their opinion on the matter…
Aubameyang is clearly one of the best goalscorers in the world, but you have to wonder what the long-term plan is here. The Gabon international will turn 29 before next season and as soon as he loses that yard of pace, he’ll be a far less effective striker.
Likewise, Arsenal invested a similar sum in Alexandre Lacazette back in the summer – has he already been deemed not good enough by Arsene Wenger? It strikes as a signing more to maintain the perception of Arsenal being able to attract top drawer talent, which Aubameyang may not be for too much longer anyway, rather than truly addressing a weakness in the squad.
Sanchez’s departure gives Arsenal a chance to rebuild, but instead the Gunners are only postponing their problems until Aubameyang’s career begins to unwind.
Then again, if Wenger’s tenure is to come to an end either this summer or the next, perhaps a proven player in peak form is the short-term solution they need until a new manager comes in and puts his own mark on a team needing a fresh identity.
Nowadays, paying £50m for players is no big shock, and in Arsenal’s case they may not have a choice given that time is running out in the January transfer window. They’ve lost Alexis Sanchez and if they want to end the season strongly, they need a replacement now.
Let’s not forget, Aubameyang is proven – he scored 31 league goals last season and he’s netted 21 in 23 games in all competitions already in this campaign. A question mark for me, though, would be his discipline.
It makes me wonder why he has not been scooped up before now.
While many would argue that investing that amount of money in a player that will be 29 years of age this year is wrong, Arsenal need to get the feel-good factor back around the club following the departure of Alexis Sanchez, and show that they can still attract the best players in European football.
Having lost Sanchez to United, they will be determined to keep Mesut Ozil too but the brilliant German will only want to commit his long-term future to the club if they show ambition and bring in players that can make a difference and help them push on.
Aubameyang’s incredible goal record certainly means he can help them do that, and it would also give Wenger the opportunity to try out a 4-2-2-2 formation with Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up top, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ozil in the advanced midfield positions behind.
Whatever the price, the signing of a 28-year-old forward who is considered one of the world’s biggest stars marks a significant departure for Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy at Arsenal.
For that reason, the price is almost an irrelevance, the mere act of buying him at all is the statement.
But it might be a statement that says more than Arsenal ever intended. After losing Alexis Sanchez and, to a much lesser extent, Theo Walcott in this window, are the Gunners actually strengthened by this move? Or is it a purchase just to prove that they’re still one of the world’s biggest clubs? And do they even need him, after signing Alexandre Lacazette for a club record fee in the summer?
Perhaps the biggest talking point, though, should be the question of who exactly is sanctioning this transfer. Is it Wenger or the new ‘Head of Recruitment’ Sven Mislintat? If it’s the former, it’s certainly a sea change, if it’s the latter, is this the ‘biggest hint yet’ that we’re nearing the end of an era at the Emirates?