911 Reads 4 Comments
Arsenal have reportedly been told they'll have to offer €100-120 million if they want to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
That's the word from the Bundesliga club's CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, who made the statement to German publication Kicker (h/t Goal's Tom Davis): "If someday there really arrives an offer of €100 or €120 million for him, we will discuss it. But we want to keep him above 2020."
It's an obvious attempt to scare off the prolific frontman's growing number of suitors, including Arsenal. The Gunners have recently been linked with a £63.2 million bid to beat Premier League rivals Manchester United to Aubameyang by French source Le10 Sport (h/t the Daily Mirror's James Whaling).
But even before Watzke's words, that bid didn't look sufficient. Not when Real Madrid are reportedly preparing a £54.9 million offer plus classic No. 9 Alvaro Morata, according to German publication Bild (h/t Jonathan Green of the Daily Star).
Frank Augstein/Associated Press Aubameyang's stunning performances this season have attracted many suitors.
More than just a player-and-cash deal though, Arsenal's chances of signing Aubameyang are hindered by the player's own preference. Speaking to Kicker (h/t John Downes of the MailOnline), Aubameyang identified his dream destination: "I've never made a secret of [the fact] I would someday like to play for Real Madrid, but I also have not extended my contract at BVB until 2020 without a reason. I feel very good here."
Should Wenger pay what it takes for Aubameyang? Yes No Submit Vote vote to see results
Despite the strong competition, Arsenal's need for a finisher of Aubameyang's quality is obvious. He boasts the pace, perceptive movement and unerring eye for goal no current member of the Gunners' forward line possesses.
Putting Aubameyang through the middle would give Arsenal the type of fluid, cheetah-fast attack that's defined manager Arsene Wenger's best teams.
But it has to be galling for the Gunners boss to know he might have snagged Aubameyang for a fraction of these prices previously. Arsenal were linked with the forward when he was thriving for Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne in 2013, when Metro's Jamie Sanderson detailed how scout Gilles Grimandi gave a "glowing report" on the jet-heeled attacker valued at the time between £10 and £15 million.
Back then, Aubameyang would have been a typical Wenger signing: a player of some potential, not widely known, but able to develop into a star with the right coaching.
Nowadays, Wenger spends money a little more freely. But mega-cash signings have never been the Frenchman's forte, and even the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have only yielded modest returns.
It's unlikely Wenger would pay triple digits for any player, even a striker as suited to his style of play as Aubameyang.
Gunners Scout Red Bull Salzburg Midfield Talisman
If Wenger is returning to his under-the-radar roots, perhaps that explains the interest in Red Bull Salzburg's midfield gem Naby Keita.
Austrian source Sportnet (h/t talkSPORT) has reported how Gunners scouts have been watching Keita recently. The report also provided some details about the ultra-athletic 21-year-old's playing style: "Considered a box-to-box midfielder, Keita has proven he has potential to score goals from midfield, having already hit double figures this season."
In fact, Keita has found the net 10 times in the Austrian top flight this season, according to WhoScored.com. More goals from midfield would certainly be welcome in an Arsenal squad that has scored 48 times in 30 Premier League games, per the division's official site.
How should Wenger approach the transfer market this summer? Splash the cash and target elite names Go back to his roots and unearth hidden talents Submit Vote vote to see results
Wenger's scouts will continue to run the rule over the Guinea star, per talkSPORT. If the Arsenal chief receives enough positive reviews, perhaps he'll make the kind of under-the-radar signing he was once famous for.
If so, Keita would join the growing contingent of African talents Wenger is once again assembling at Arsenal. The group includes young Nigerians Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Nwakali.
Wenger has never been shy about rolling the dice on African prospects. Players such as Nwankwo Kanu, Lauren, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor and Alex Song all flourished after joining the Gunners.
James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images Iwobi represents Arsenal's current African core.
Wenger knows his current squad needs help in the final third. Adding a top-notch striker and a goal-getting midfielder are the best ways to provide that help.
But it will be interesting to see which philosophy Wenger abides by during his search for attacking reinforcements, either paying over the odds for big-name stars or reverting to type and taking chances on a few hidden gems instead.