According to The Mirror, Manchester United are plotting a £60 million move this summer for Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The report also claims that United are confident of securing Aubameyang's services, despite a potential lack of Champions League football, by awarding him a £200,000-a-week contract and promising to make him a "global superstar." HA!
Now that you've stopped laughing, let's dive into just exactly why this transfer isn't going to happen this summer.
Manchester United will not be in the Champions League next year
Even if you don't follow the Premier League, surely you've heard that United are not in good shape right now. Man U are currently in fifth place in the table, ten points off the North London clubs and six points behind rivals Manchester City in the coveted position of fourth place.
Despite their struggles this season, many United fans held hopes of qualifying for the Champions League under the assumption that upstarts Leicester City would eventually fall off from their position atop the table. Leicester have shown no signs of a possible slide down the table. Even if their form fell off it would have to be a sizable collapse, as the Foxes still have a 12-point gap on United.
The other teams above United simply look better than the Red Devils on the pitch every week. Tottenham are playing the best football in the league and are focused on the title. Arsenal are well coached and are relatively healthy by their standards. Manchester City still have one of the best squads in Europe and will only improve as key players like Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne return to fitness.
Champions League qualification is not happening this year for United, especially as they seem content to allow under-pressure boss Louis Van Gaal to stay on through the end of the season. Van Gaal's style has been derided this season as negative and boring. United have only scored 33 goals this season and have been kept scoreless in eight of their 26 Premier League matches.
With the traditional route out of the question, United's only avenue to the Champions League would be winning the Europa League. To do that they'll have to emerge as the best of the 32 other teams in the competition while playing youngsters like Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Paddy McNair. Having lost to relegation-fodder like Sunderland and Norwich this season, I'm very doubtful of Manchester United's chances to lift the Europa League trophy this May in Basel.
Aubameyang is already a global superstar
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is already well known to soccer fans around the world, he doesn't need a boost in popularity that some think joining United might bring. He's scored 20 goals this season in the Bundesliga, second only to Robert Lewandowski by a single goal.
Remember Auba's hat-trick against Augsburg? Or his recent brace against Ingolstadt? Or the goal he scored on his rear end from a tight angle against Bayern last year? Aubameyang has earned his global stardom on his own, with amazing performances and goals like these.
Of course every global superstar needs to have a bit of swagger, and Auba's got more than enough in supply, just look at his outfit from the Hannover match this weekend! Is there a striker in Europe other than Zlatan who plays a more entertaining style of football? Anyone would become a fan of Pierre-Emerick just by watching him use his superhuman pace to blow by an entire team of defenders. There have been plenty of speedy players in the Bundesliga, but Aubameyang is on another level.
Looks like Dortmund star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ready for the new Zoolander movie... pic.twitter.com/kAM9JXFRdm— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 13, 2016
He also just won the 2015 African Footballer of the Year Award, ending Yaya Toure's run of winning the award in four successive years. Go to Africa and tell me that Aubameyang is not a superstar. He's from the tiny country of Gabon, but Africans embrace great footballers as heroes no matter where on the continent they are from. Auba has the potential to become a Pan-African hero like Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba, or George Weah are.
United's plans for making him a global superstar consist of turning him into a walking Chevrolet ad.
Manchester United are poorly run and unstable
Any player in Europe who has an opportunity to move to Manchester United should look long and hard at what they have become. Gone are the days of Sir Alex Ferguson keeping everyone in line and ensuring that they finish at the top of the table every year.
The list of successful players who moved to United only to find frustration and an early exit is pretty long. If Aubameyang spoke to Angel Di Maria or Radamel Falcao, they would surely tell him to avoid a move to Manchester.
Jose Mourinho is widely rumored to be taking over for Van Gaal this summer at Old Trafford. For some players, especially those of Portuguese or Spanish descent, Mourinho might be quite the draw. I don't get that feeling with Aubameyang. Auba certainly enjoys the freedom in his role that he has under Thomas Tuchel at Dortmund. If he moved to United and played for Mourinho he'd be expected to track back and defend like his life depended on it. Eden Hazard didn't enjoy playing for Mourinho because of these requirements, I think Auba would be in a similar frame of mind.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I really don't think Dortmund fans need to worry about Aubameyang moving to Manchester United. Despite their club history, a move to Man U would be a significant step down in his career. The only worries should be if PSG or Real Madrid took interest in our Gabonese General, but they each already have big name strikers in their squad who might scoff at more competition.
He signed a new contract last summer that is schedule to last until 2020. Who knows where any player will be four years from now, but I fully expect Auba to be at the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts next year while wearing the yellow and black of BVB.