Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s return to English football hasn’t gone as expected, with the former Arsenal forward having struggled since his move to Chelsea last summer.
In 16 appearances, the Gabonese striker has netted just three times. He has struggled for game time of late, with Blues head coach Graham Potter opting for Kai Havertz instead, despite the German international being a midfielder by trade.
This has led to speculation that Aubameyang could be set to leave Stamford Bridge during this month’s transfer window, with Atletico Madrid reported interested in securing his signature.
However, that deal will not happen, as Fabrizio Romano confirmed that Aubameyang can only play for Chelsea and former club Barcelona, who sold the forward to the London club in September. FIFA rules state that a player cannot play for more than two clubs in a season, and as Aubameyang featured for Barcelona against Rayo Vallecano in August before his move to England, it means that he cannot play for another club until next season.
However, Barca could re-register the forward, as they can one of the two clubs that Aubameyang has played for this season. With reports that Atleti want to recruit Memphis Depay for the rest of the season, the Chelsea striker could join as a replacement for the Dutchman.
Aubameyang’s time at Barcelona was perhaps underappreciated. The 33-year-old scored 11 goals in 18 La Liga appearances, which included a hattrick against Valencia and a famous double in Barca’s 4-0 El Clasico rout against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. He ended the season as the club’s second top scorer in the league, one behind Depay, who had played 11 games more.
The Gabonese still has much to offer, despite his torrid time at Chelsea. He is still an excellent finisher, who can link up well with his fellow forwards. Although he is not as quick as he once was, he still has a fair amount of pace. As a back-up option to Robert Lewandowski, he would be an excellent choice if Barca can pull it off.
Aubameyang’s versatility would also make him a more attractive option for Xavi, when compared to Depay. The Dutchman is only natural playing through the middle, whilst Aubameyang has the ability to play from the left, which is a position where Barca doesn’t possess a great amount of depth.
Aubameyang struggled at Arsenal before joining Barcelona, and he has a difficult time against at Chelsea. Sandwiched between those two spells in England, his spell in Spain proved that he could be a valuable asset for any team in the country, despite his poor recent form.
The sticking point for Barcelona is the finances. They would require a free transfer agreement with Chelsea, whilst also needing Aubameyang to take a big pay cut in order to keep his wages in the salary cap. This isn’t exactly an ideal situation for both player and club, which may make a deal difficult for Barcelona.
It boils down to whether Chelsea are willing to let Aubameyang go for free, having spent €12m to sign him just over four months ago. If Barcelona can secure a deal, it could be a great piece of business.