After going three league games without starting, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played the full ninety minutes as Borussia Dortmund rescued a last gasp point at home to Freiburg.
The Gabon international has been a hot topic of January transfer speculation with Arsenal reportedly trying to bring him to North London. The fact that the forward was left out of Peter Stoger’s squad for the 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin suggests the transfer talk is affecting the player’s focus and his usually high levels of performance.
This came after Aubameyang had missed a team meeting the previous week, subsequently dropped for the game with Werder Bremen as well.
The usual procedure for football clubs in this day and age of social media transfer rumours is to release any player whose heart is clearly no longer at the club.
It would be nonsensical to keep someone on the wage bill when they are clearly tempted by a move elsewhere, and are not playing to their full potential because of this.
Boos greeted Aubameyang’s first start since December 16th from sections of the home crowd in the Signal Iduna Park. A banner also stated quite clearly what the fans think of the whole saga: ‘‘No player is bigger than the club.’’
The fans are understandably frustrated by the rumours as they appear to be affecting the team’s performances on the pitch. Dortmund are yet to win in 2018, drawing three games in succession.
Aubameyang himself was not at his best as Jeremy Toljan’s 93rd equaliser rescued the home side. Nils Petersen scored twice to initially turn the game on its head after Shinji Kagawa’s sixth minute opener.
Just after the thirty minute mark, Aubameyang had his first real effort on goal, but could only head over the bar as the tension levels rose to a crescendo within the stadium.
With the likes of Christian Pulisic, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Andrey Yarmolenko, Andre Schurrle and exciting young talent, Jadon Sancho, within the Dortmnd squad, it is clear there is an abundance of attacking options without Aubameyang.
In this sense it would not be the end of the world if the Gabon player was sold for the right money given the other options at Stoger’s disposal.
Yet Aubameyang is also the club’s scorer this season with 13 goals, seven more than Maximilian Philipp who is next on the charts. Scoring goals without the forward may be a concern for Dortmund, even if there is plenty of attacking personnel within the squad.
Dortmund have allegedly already rejected a £50 million bid from Arsenal for their prized asset, but are willing to negotiate a deal if Arsene Wenger is willing to offer something more in the region of £60 million.
‘‘We are prepared to implement a transfer under certain parameters, and only if these parameters are fully met,’’ Michael Zorc, Dortmund’s sporting director, told Sky Sports.
The initiative is clearly with Arsenal to make the rumours reality, and secure a deal for the African after they lost Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United. Aubameyang would be an ideal like-for-like replacement for the Chilean, and would surely go straight into Wenger’s starting line-up. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are not on his level if he’s on form after all.
There have also been rumours that Olivier Giroud could potentially be used as part of the deal with the Frenchman being exchanged in addition to a financial sum.