Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wants to stay at Barcelona despite links with Chelsea, although the situation remains open, according to reports.
Chelsea are in the market for a new centre-forward after letting Romelu Lukaku go back to Inter Milan. Aubameyang is someone whom Thomas Tuchel feels he can rely on after they worked together at Borussia Dortmund.
Since those times, Aubameyang enjoyed a rollercoaster spell with Arsenal, before heading off to Barcelona this winter. During his first half-season in La Liga, he scored an impressive 11 goals in 17 games.
However, Barcelona still found the temptation to add to their attack too good to pass up this summer. They signed Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich, getting one of the best strikers in the world.
As a result, Aubameyang is not guaranteed regular starts at Camp Nou. It has prompted speculation over a swift Premier League return, back to London but this time with Chelsea.
Optimism seems to have been growing at Stamford Bridge. But according to Mundo Deportivo, Aubameyang intends to stay at Barcelona.
Under contract until 2025, the Gabon international could compete for his place in Catalonia still. He may even adapt his role to play out wide, so he can feature in the same lineup as his former Dortmund teammate, Lewandowski.
However, Chelsea have not given up hope of convincing Aubameyang to leave Barcelona. The report from Mundo Deportivo points to two ways they can be more convincing than Barcelona: first, by offering him more gametime, and second, with a better salary.
Hence, the option for Aubameyang to end up at Chelsea remains plausible. From Barcelona’s perspective, it may also be helpful since they have struggled to sell Chelsea target, Frenkie de Jong.
The La Liga giants could do with freeing up space on their roster if they are to sign Bernardo Silva from Manchester City in what appears to be a difficult deal. Hence, they might have to sacrifice Aubameyang if they keep De Jong.
So, all is not lost for Chelsea in their pursuit of Aubameyang. They have a couple of weeks to keep persuading the 33-year-old to join.
An intermediary has been in Barcelona to discuss terms between the two clubs. If things progress on that front, it will be up to Chelsea to convince Aubameyang to change his original plan.
Chelsea option could be better for Aubameyang
Although Aubameyang may prefer to be at Barcelona for now, Chelsea could be a better option for him.
Lewandowski’s arrival means he is not going to be the main man at his current club. In contrast, Chelsea are still relying on Kai Havertz – an attacking midfielder – as the focal point of their frontline.
Aubameyang’s Arsenal spell had its ups and downs, but in general he was a good striker in the Premier League.
It would be something of a shame from his perspective to end his Barcelona journey so soon, especially after his goal record for them over the past six months.
But Chelsea could give him his last chance of regular gametime at a top-level club. It may be too good an opportunity to turn down.
Perhaps he will come round to the idea of reuniting with Tuchel at Chelsea. For now, though, he remains on Barcelona’s books.