Barcelona want to replace an ageing superstar with an ageing superstar
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is 30 years old. He may not look it, as he can still beat Héctor Bellerín in a footrace. But it is a fact, just as Luis Suárez’s gradual decline is a fact. Barcelona would be absolutely crazy to sign him as a replacement for ‘El Pistolero’.
Aubameyang was touted for a big-money move to an elite European club after he had had a breakout season with Borussia Dortmund. But the Gabonese attacker left it too late for his big break, and committed himself to spending his prime years at Arsenal.
The Gunners’ record signing has been a huge success at the Emirates. Aubameyang has scored 50 goals and provided 12 assists in a mere 79 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal, and has risen to captaincy under Unai Emery.
He fits in perfectly with Emery’s system, and has built a formidable attacking partnership with France international Alexandre Lacazette. At Arsenal, Aubameyang truly has a chance of becoming a club legend, matching the likes of Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry.
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A move to Barça would just derail this good career path for Aubameyang. He would need to adapt to the Barça style of play, a style that he is totally unfamiliar with. Then, he would also need to build understandings with nearly all of his teammates.
Such a transition has been insurmountable for Antoine Griezmann, who is a World Cup winner and has single-handedly carried Atlético in the past. For Aubameyang, it would be career suicide. Moreover, it would be a sheer waste of talent.
From Barça’s perspective, this purported transfer is even more bizarre. Aubameyang is a player who doesn’t fit the required profile, apart from the fact that he is a goalscorer. There is no evidence to support that the Gabon international is a good passer of the ball.
His off-the-ball movement is among the best in the world, but Aubameyang is not a forward who can play with his back to goal and hold up the ball. His pace is his most useful asset, but Barça usually do not play counter-attacking football.
But the biggest point is Aubameyang’s age. Suárez is about to turn 33, and Aubameyang is 30. He can possibly be a long-term successor to the Uruguayan centre-forward. And with the squad in transition, Barça cannot afford to spend big on short-term solutions.
Barça should continue to monitor the development of players like Lautaro Martínez and Erling Håland. If they turn out to be too expensive, there are plenty of other young strikers in the market as well, like Donyell Malen. But it would be foolhardy to splash the cash on Aubameyang.