Rumours have been circling social media, reporting Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is a transfer target for Chelsea. With Arsenal not in reach of the Champions League, or even the Europa League he wants to be at the top level and considering his age, the time is now. We know the Blues are in the market for a forward, with the future of Michy Batshuayi being increasingly uncertain and Olivier Giroud seemingly about to be offered another season at the Bridge. It seems a transfer that could potentially happen. What could it mean for Chelsea? How could he fit in? Is this the right move?
— julian🇨🇺 (@Sub2Julianesque) April 11, 2020
When he arrived from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 for a fee around the £56m mark, it was a statement signing and perhaps a slightly surprising one. This is one of the most prolific strikers of recent years being incredibly successful at Dortmund and he carried his personal form into his Arsenal career. He had scored 98 goals in 144 appearances, winning the Golden Boot in a league which contained Robert Lewandowski is no mean feat. He came to England and shared the Golden Boot with Liverpool duo Mohammed Salah and Saido Mane all tied together on 22 goals.
Joining a team in which under Unai Emery struggled in general, he managed to star. In his first full season (18/19) he managed 22G & 4A in the league with an average of 3.09 per game and an expected goal per 90 at 0.77. He was lethal and quickly made his mark on the league. Without him, I’m not sure where Arsenal would have finished, or how competitive they would have been.
This year has been tough on him with two different managers in Emery and Mikel Arteta. Meaning two different philosophies, different formation, line up’s and positions – he’s had to adapt his game to be successful. If a player is good enough, they can adapt to anything. The ability is still the same, its just the mindset and determination that can dictate whether they succeed or not. His main traits are his pace; after all his 30 yard sprint was faster than Usain Bolt’s when he set the 100m world record. As well as his finishing, which is underrated as shown by his conversion rate here, which is better than Sergio Aguero (19.48) Ciro Immobile (19.19) and Luis Suarez (19.4)
He is extremely versatile in the attacking positions. Perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves with playing up top with Marco Reus at Dortmund and Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal. Often been pushed out to the left to accommodate a central forward. We’ve seen play up top alone or with a partner and succeeded either way, this was in full effect in the 4-2 away win at Valencia last season. Sharing the goals with Lacazette as he bagged a hat-trick with the Frenchman getting the other. He has shown set piece and penalty taking ability to add to his all round game.
How Could he Fit In?
With Tammy Abraham being Chelsea’s number one forward, Aubameyang coming in would be interesting. I believe he is in his prime right now and wherever he goes, he can’t be sat on the bench. Chelsea seem to be looking for strikers to offer competition to Abraham, rather than take his place. The likes of Moussa Dembele, Luca Waldschmidt and Victor Osimhen being linked all point towards that. Whether the guarantees of game time will be there for the Gabonese International is unknown, which makes the potential transfer a doubt.
From the heat map here, it shows his season has been spent in these wider positions rather than centrally. Due to manager’s tactics and trying to accommodate Lacazette. He is comfortable playing there and could mean Chelsea could have Pulisic, Aubameyang on the left and Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech on the right. However, it does seem to block the young wingers’ pathways to development but it is an example of how he could feature.
His ability to feature with Abraham could happen on the left or even up top with two forwards late on. However, Chelsea don’t ever play with two strikers up top as the formation is always 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 3-4-2-1 under Lampard. He is also unlikely to take the spot of one of the wingers, as they are themselves very good players who are key to the team.
On the other hand, adding in that vital experience and clinical finishing is something Chelsea need to go the next level. Abraham performed really well in his first season, but his conversion was poor. If he improves on that then the Blues have a serious striker for years to come. But, for now, he offers experience, quality and versatility. Comparing the two here shows Aubameyang’s quality.
With the players at the club already, plus Hakim Ziyech joining and talks of other potential players coming in (Philipe Coutinho, Jadon Sancho, Luca Walderschmidt) it seems that creativity will not be an issue next year. With the youth having almost a full season to settle into top level football, the likes of Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Billy Gilmour and a returning Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be even better. Creating problems wasn’t an issue for Chelsea, it was the converting of the chances which was the downfall. Adding in a man who has bagged 49 in 75 for Arsenal could be just the push they need.
Following in the footsteps of Arsenal players who have joined Chelsea has seen success. Just ask Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Cole and Olivier Giroud who came to Chelsea and won league’s and European trophies. He knows the league, the city, he’s settled here, he’s scoring goals and he’s in his prime. However, there are issues with the fee, it doesn’t match the direction the club is trying to take and he could be blocking people’s development paths both up front and out wide. However, its hard to deny that it would be a good signing and an exciting one of that.