Have Arsenal Won the Transfer Window With the Signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?
The signing of Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by Arsenal became official on transfer deadline day. The shifty forward moved from Borussia Dortmund to reunite with Henrikh Mkhitaryan for a fee north of $79 million. It was a much-anticipated move that helped other dominoes fall in the January transfer window, but was it the best move this month?
Over 32,000 people have been watching a flight tracker of a private jet believed to have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on board. (Source: @flightradar24) pic.twitter.com/v2kGKDslsX
â€” Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) January 30, 2018
Aubameyang has been one of the most prolific goal scorers in the Bundesliga in recent years, netting 141 goals in 213 games for Dortmund. He sits in second place this season in league play with 13 goals. Aubameyang's rate of a goal every 116 minutes since 2013 is second only to former Dortmund and current Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
There is no doubt that Auba will add goals to Arsenal, but the question is how will he fit into the squad. He had a chemistry with Mkhitaryan -- another Arsenal newcomer -- when they were both at Dortmund. Now he will have to mesh with Mesut Ozil after the midfielder signed a new deal. Aubameyang will also need to work with Alexandre Lacazette, a big-money signing from last summer who seems to be a player much like Aubameyang.
Together again indeed! pic.twitter.com/2fqt0V9k12
â€” Nick Tasper ðŸ¤™ðŸ½ (@NTasper) January 31, 2018
On the surface it appears the similarities between Aubameyang and Lacazette could cause problems if they are on the field at the same time. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger tends not to favor two players up top and may push one behind the other. Lacazette was signed for a similar figure back in the summer, but he has yet to take hold of his spot at the top of the Arsenal attack.
Aubameyang has also flourished in a sole striker role with great quality delivery from his Dortmund teammates. It was not until Lewandowski left that Aubameyang excelled in front of the Yellow Wall. Last year, his expected goals per shot was 0.23, the best for any striker in the top five European leagues. That indicates that the chances he was given came in great spots. Of his 13 goals this season, 6 have been scored inside the six-yard box and 3 have come from the penalty spot. He has not scored from outside the box this campaign at Dortmund.
Aubameyang does bring speed. There have been comparisons to Usain Bolt over the last couple years, and only one player in the Bundesliga has been clocked faster. That alone cannot solve Arsenal's problems as many talk of an imbalance in the midfield -- they may have too many attack-minded players -- that must be figured out by Mkhitaryan, Ozil, and, apparently, Granit Xhaka.
The luster of signing Aubameyang may not be as bright today after Arsenal's 3-1 loss to Swansea in midweek action. The weather was horrible and one goal was gifted to the Swans on a mistake from keeper Petr Cech. However, it was a horrible result for a team trying to get to secure a place in the top four.
Time will tell what impact Aubameyang will have, but Arsenal still have problems they need to solve throughout the lineup. Other top teams that have made moves seem to be more settled. Alexis Sanchez has his place in the Manchester United side, and his move from Arsenal remains a bit of a humiliation for the Gunners. Also, Aymeric Laporte joining Manchester City makes sense alongside John Stones and strengthens a City side that's already running away with the EPL.
Perhaps the best thing about the Aubameyang signing for Arsenal supporters is that it is a sign of business and a change in overall roster makeup. Gone are Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, and Mathieu Debuchy. They were rotation players who, perhaps, hindered Arsenal's ability to sign the big-name players and meet the salary demands of players like Ozil.
Aubameyang is a great signing for Arsenal and may give the fans hope. The return will be needed on the field, and the Arsenal squad must look organized defensively. It may be too late to make up the eight-point gap to fourth place, but the style of play and team cohesion are just as vital down the stretch.