Negotiations are still ongoing for Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Chief scout Sven Mislintat and chief executive Ivan Gazidis have been in Dortmund since Tuesday, and that puts significant weight behind the validity of the rumours that the Gabonese striker is close to a move to the Emirates.
But Borussia Dortmund’s asking price of around €70 million might prove to be a big obstacle. The Gunners have officially placed a bid of around £51 million for the player, and according to latest reports Dortmund have rejected it.
With less than a week until the transfer windows closes, the two clubs seem to be locked in a Mexican stand-off situation and with each day the chances for Aubameyang joining Arsenal seem to be dwindling.
The latest reports reveal an alternative: Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. The creative midfielder was spotted sneaking out of the Emirates stadium following Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final, and this might come as worrying news to some because it could mean that Arsenal could opt to sing him instead of Aubameyang.
Not that the two players are of a similar mould. Aubameyang is a world-class goal-scorer, while Mahrez is a creator. So it begs the question: why would the Gunners go for Mahrez when they already have Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan?
There are two possible answers to that question.
One is that Mahrez is just a pawn in the negotiations for Aubameyang. The player costs around £50 million – just about how much Arsenal’s have bid for Aubameyang. It very well might be that the Gunners are trying to put further pressure on Dortmund, to send a message of sorts: “Look, we offered 50 million, if you are not willing to accept this, we can go for another player and you will be stuck with a rebel in your team for the remainder of the season.”
The second possibility is that there is some truth to a potential move for Mahrez, but this is not something most Arsenal fans would like to hear as it implies he will be brought in as a replacement for Mesut Ozil.
It seems the Gunners are playing with their cards very close to the chest. Wenger has been reluctant to reveal anything. He was quoted earlier: “The best thing is I don’t talk about it. It wouldn’t help.
“If something happens it happens, if it doesn’t we are strong enough to focus on the players we have.
“I’m perfectly happy with the players we have. At the moment, we are open to strengthening the team but we are not close to signing anybody.”
Just what exactly is going on at the Emirates remains unclear. It’s not something we are not used to seeing. But it is a safe bet to assume that a lot will become clearer in the next few days.