Spanish giants Barcelona have reignited their interest to sign Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and are eyeing a swap deal that will involve Philippe Coutinho joining Arsenal, according to Spanish news outlet Sport (via The Sun).
There has been a lot of speculation regarding Aubameyang’s absence in Arsenal’s opening game of the Premier League season against Brentford. Although the Gunners boss Mikel Arteta cited the event as “illness”, pundits and fans did not seem to miss any rumour or possibility that might have surfaced.
The 32-year-old Gabonese striker has struggled to find his usual form ever since signing a new deal with Arsenal last summer. Aubameyang netted only 10 Premier League goals last season, which is very unusual given a player of his stature.
Now, Barcelona are eyeing an opportunity of a potential swap deal for Aubameyang which might see Phillipe Coutinho going the other way. The Blaugranas reportedly have opened negotiations with the North London club over the transfer of Aubameyang, who was heavily linked with a move to Camp Nou last summer before penning a lucrative new deal with the Gunners.
It remains unclear whether Arsenal are willing to let their talisman go, especially after signing the contract extension last year. The club’s highest earner has been on Barca’s radar for a long time, but a deal might not be possible. The Gunners, on the other hand, were interested in Coutinho last year and explored the possibility of a potential loan deal.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) August 16, 2021
Coutinho’s 20/21 season was interrupted by a serious meniscus problem which allowed him to reach the back of the net only two times in his 12 La Liga appearances. With 2.33 shots per game and netting only two assists, he has been one of the players whose career has immensely declined.
The Brazilian has been a flop on the Spanish soil after moving to Barcelona in a mega-money transfer from Liverpool, a deal which cost the Catalans around a staggering £106m. Coutinho earns £148,000-a-week at the Camp Nou and a swap deal with Aubameyang would mean Arsenal could be saving a lot of money upfront.
As announced by their President Joan Laporta, Barcelona are in a debt of around €1.35 billion. With the club salaries amounting to about 103% of the income, Barca are looking for ways to get some underperforming players off their wage bill. Laporta admitted that they had to take a loan of €550m to regain their financial footing.
“Barcelona has a negative net worth of €451m – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.”
Arsenal’s hunt for creativity might tempt them into considering the offer, but any deal to offload their star striker would mean getting a proper replacement. The striker position was initially meant to be filled if Lacazette left Emirates.
Despite rumours regarding the Aubameyang situation, it would not make any sense if Arsenal go ahead with the deal and bring in Coutinho, another player who’s out of form. The age factor also kicks in with Arteta trying to rebuild his squad with young blood.
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Arsenal are set to announce the signing of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on a permanent transfer. This transfer move would bolster their attacking midfield ranks, therefore making the possibility of the Aubameyang – Coutinho swap deal redundant. Moreover, it seems highly unlikely that Arteta would be willing to lose his main striker to strengthen his midfield.
Less than two weeks are left in the transfer window and Arsenal need to act quickly in the transfer market. Several reports have stated that the last two weeks would be very busy for the club – a transfer window which might be one of the most important ones in their hunt for a top-four spot.
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