For the second time in six months, Arsenal has broken its club transfer record, shelling out a reported $78.5 million to sign striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. This deal gets the dominos moving, with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud expected to complete a nearly $25 million move across town to Chelsea while Michy Batshuayi moves to Dortmund on-loan through the end of the season.
The signing reunites Aubameyang with his former Dortmund teammate Henrik Mkhitaryan as well as Arsenal chief scout Sven Mislintat, who Arsenal hired from Dortmund in 2017.
On paper, this is a great signing from Arsenal, with one of the world’s best strikers joining the club. After becoming a house-hold name in Europe with AS Saint-Etienne, Aubameyang became a legend at Dortmund, scoring 141 goals in 4.5 years.
And he proved his worth not just in the Bundesliga, but in Europe, scoring 11 goals in the 2015-2016 edition of the UEFA Europa League and seven goals in nine games in last year’s Champions League campaign.
Even with rumors since the summer of an impending move away from Dortmund, Aubameyang still managed to score 13 league goals and four Champions League goals in just 22 games this season, a very impressive strike-rate.
While this looks great on paper, it may not be what Arsenal really needed, given its performance on Tuesday evening at Swansea. Defensively, the club is a mess – it can be argued they never replaced Patrick Vieira – and they desperately have needed top-quality centerbacks and holding midfielders for years. Instead, the manager goes out and spends a club-record fee in back to back windows on two strikers, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang.
It remains to be seen how Lacazette and Aubameyang will play together, whether as part of a 4-2-3-1 with Aubameyang playing as a second striker or on the wings, or whether Aubameyang pushes Lacazette out all together.
Based on Lacazette’s start to his Arsenal career, the club certainly won’t reap much back for him on the transfer market if they decide to sell him, but to be fair to Lacazette, his signing was curious as Arsenal hasn’t been very good recently at crossing and he’s best at picking out crosses in the box.
Aubameyang also excels at that, but he’s adept at link-up play and even at 29-years old, provides a speed option up top to stretch opposing defenses.
In Giroud, Arsenal are again selling a popular player to a league rival, this time to Chelsea after Manchester United signed Alexis Sanchez earlier this month. Giroud had 5.5 solid but never spectacular years at Arsenal and with just one start this season, he’s departed looking for more playing time ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Unfortunately for him, he’ll be playing behind Alvaro Morata – should he be fit – for the rest of 2018.