This past week was not a good one for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. In Dortmund’s UEFA Champions League first leg, Auba had his evening cut short when he subbed off in the 62nd minute after failing to make an impact against Benfica.
In Friday’s press conference, BVB Manager Thomas Tuchel spoke about the rough night for Dortmund’s striker.
Tuchel: "Aubameyang certainly gnawed on Benfica for a day. There should be no finger-pointing at him. He came to practice smiling yesterday"— Get German Football (@GGFN_) February 17, 2017
While it was arguably Aubameyang’s worst game in his Dortmund career, Benfica still only won the match 1-0. Following the match, various questioned surfaced about the striker and his future in Dortmund.
Could Dortmund have done better with another striker up top? What’s wrong with Aubameyang, is he losing desire? Where will he be playing next season? Is Aubameyang expendable?
That last one catches a lot of attention. Can Dortmund really afford to lose Auba this summer and still be competitive and contenders for the Bundesliga title? There’s more than meets the eye with just giving this question a simple yes or no answer.
There’s been a lot of talk about Aubameyang leaving Dortmund this coming summer, despite being under contract until the end of the 2020 season. One of the most-common proposed destination for the Gabonese striker is Real Madrid. Some reports have said that Aubameyang will make the switch to Real as early as this summer for a fee of 90-100 million euros.
Michael Zorc commented on the claim of Aubameyang’s departure, stating it was “perfect nonsense.” Even Aubameyang quelled the commotion caused by this rumor, noting firmly that he is “concentrated on my season here. I am a player of Borussia Dortmund.”
Another possible destination for Aubameyang is the English Premier League. Predictably, Manchester City and Arsenal are hot on the trail for the Gabonese striker, but another possible interested party is former-BVB manager Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The Reds are looking to part ways with striker Daniel Sturridge and are looking to contend for the signing of Aubameyang.
Regardless of whether Auba is playing in Spain, England, or Germany next season, one question still remains: is he expendable?
No footballers, regardless of who they are or what their skill level is, cannot simply leave a club and not be replaced. If Auba is to leave, Dortmund would need to find a suitable replacement for him. Currently, no one on the BVB squad fits that description as striker is the position with the least depth.
Newly-inked Alexander Isak has shown the potential to sprout into a world-class striker, but is far from being the everyday striker Dortmund would need. Mario Gotze can play striker, but his natural position is more of an attacking midfielder. Ousmane Dembele has also played striker, but again he is naturally a winger.
Some names have popped up as possible new signings this summer. If Auba heads to Madrid, one possible deal, instead of simply a large buyout, would be a slightly smaller fee along with Alvaro Morata. This has been proposed in the past and Morata has even been a target of BVB in the past. He is certainly skilled enough to replace Aubameyang yet it is unlikely Madrid would want to part ways with him permanently.
Other options involve more youthful signings. Again, these probably wouldn’t be immediate stars like Dortmund would need, but would still fit the bill as a similar style player to Aubameyang.
Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg has been linked with a move to Dortmund, yet he would not be a perfect fit to the Tuchel system. Another option could be Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe. Probably the most ideal fit, the French youngster has shown his scoring prowess and is a proven speedster up front.
The most recent rumor has linked Athletic Bilbao striker Inaki Williams to Dortmund. Williams will turn 23 this summer and has already received one cap by the Spain national team. In 94 total appearances with Bilbao, Williams has scored 21 times, yet only twice this season.
Though Williams is an exciting young forward, his buyout is an astounding 50 million euros, meaning Dortmund would be forced to use a chunk of their Aubameyang payout on a forward that may or may not completely pan out...doesn’t sound like an option, meaning Mbappe is still the primary replacement.
So with all this in mind, we can finally and firmly say that Dortmund cannot afford to part ways with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Despite one bad game and endless rumors of his departures, it seems that Aubameyang is content in Dortmund and the addition of a few supporting cast members is all Dortmund could use instead.