Premier League • England

Chelsea have Aubameyang succession plan in mind with superstar Frenchman one of three contenders to lead Tuchel charge

RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe

Chelsea will push to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before the September 1 deadline, though the Blues already have a superstar Frenchman in mind to become his long-term successor, per reports.

After selling Timo Werner back to RB Leipzig and loaning Romelu Lukaku back to Inter, Thomas Tuchel is hunting for a new face to lead the line.

Kai Havertz can and has operated as a false nine when required. However, there are doubts as to whether a Chelsea attack led by Havertz can compete with the likes of Man City and Liverpool. Indeed, his gilt-edged miss from close-range against Tottenham heightened the concerns.

Armando Broja is on the books, though the 20-year-old lacks experience and could be loaned out once again.

That’s resulted in former Arsenal striker Aubameyang emerging as Tuchel’s primary target up front.

Aubameyang played the best football of his career under Tuchel when notching 79 goals in 95 games at Dortmund between 2015-17.

Tuchel has always spoken warmly of Aubameyang when asked about his various disciplinary issues. What’s more, Barcelona’s acquisition of Robert Lewandowski is likely to restrict Aubameyang’s minutes in Spain.

As such, Fabrizio Romano reported a meeting took place on Thursday with the aim of Chelsea ascertaining what type of personal terms Aubameyang would command.

The result of that meeting was reportedly ‘very positive’ and both Chelsea and Aubameyang are on the ‘same page’ regarding personal terms.

Romano then stated it’s now time for talks between Chelsea and Barca to begin, though a fresh report from the Telegraph claimed Chelsea view him only as a short-term option.

Chelsea thinking two steps ahead

If signed, Aubameyang would lead the line this season before potentially transitioning to more of a squad role next year and beyond.

When the summer window of 2023 rolls around, Chelsea want to sign a more long-term option, and three contenders are named. The most eye-catching is RB Leipzig ace, Christopher Nkunku.

The France international, 24, played in a variety of attacking positions at Leipzig last year, though finished the season either at centre-forward or second striker.

Regardless, Nkunku was potent, plundering 35 goals and 20 assists in an incredible breakthrough campaign.

Nkunku is not available this summer having only signed a contract extension in June. However, his new deal reportedly contains a bargain £51m release clause that activates next summer.

Alternative targets include AC Milan’s Rafael Leao and Stuttgart’s Sasa Kalajdzic. The latter will be available as a free agent in 2023, meaning his addition could come as well as, not instead of a more high profile target.

Aubameyang an excellent addition?

Varying reports have suggested Barcelona will sever ties with Aubameyang if Chelsea bid somewhere between £22m-£25m.

That could represent smart business for a forward who has always remained clinical despite being well into his 30s.

What’s more, the bond Tuchel and Aubameyang share could go some way to helping Chelsea avoid the problems Arsenal faced.

Aubameyang was stripped of the Gunners captaincy after returning to the country late after a trip to France. The late return reportedly disrupted Arsenal’s Covid protocols at the time.

However, given Tuchel and Aubameyang’s relationship is so strong, and the fact Aubameyang would be on last chance salon in England, perhaps his disciplinary issues could finally become a thing of the past.