Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was revealed as an Arsenal player on transfer deadline day, and has already made a strong start to his career with the Gunners – netting on his debut against Everton last weekend.
The Gabon international will surely be desperate to further endear himself to the North Londoners on Saturday, when Arsene Wenger’s side take on Tottenham Hotspur in one of the season’s most anticipated fixtures.
However, looking ahead to the Central African frontman’s long-term career at Arsenal, once the initial euphoria has died down, one has to question whether it is the right move for both player and club.
Admittedly, Aubameyang packs a punch, and in the eyes of some, looks set to be a surefire hit at the Emirates.
He was the Bundesliga’s second-top scorer in 2015/2016 when he scored 25 league goals (from 31 games) but ended below Robert Lewandowski, who had 30, but made amends the season after when he netted a staggering 31 goals from just 32 games,
That tally was enough to see off the Poland international to win the top scorer award. He’d also scored 13 times in 16 appearances for BVB this season before his transfer, and arrives at London in fine form.
It may be hard to mount a solid argument against a striker who has scored 69 league goals in just two years and a half, but questions have to be asked about whether Arsenal made the right choice splurging on another centre forward just six months after breaking their club-record fee to sign one in Alexandre Lacazette.
In fairness, the Frenchman hasn’t set the world alight since his move from France, scoring nine in 25 before Auba’s arrival, although does the purchase of another competitor send the right message to a struggling frontman who has found the back of the net just once in 12 matches?
Certainly, Lacazette has been appearing low on confidence in recent fixtures, and the arrival of Aubameyang is unlikely to boost his own self esteem.
Long term, things certainly don’t look too good for the former Olympique Lyonnais man, who boasts a similar style and profile to his new teammate.
Similarly, while it’s also impossible to deny that the signing of the former African Footballer of the Year is an instant upgrade for the North London side, who have struggled for goals in the league, one wonders whether the purchase truly solves the underlying problems at Arsenal.
Wouldn’t the Aubameyang investment have been better spent in midfield or defence?
In Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Swansea City, they made schoolboy errors in defence, while struggling in their transitions through midfield. It was an all too familiar story.
Might Wenger regret not investing in these areas of the squad?
On the flip side, one might argue it was a no-brainer getting a player of Aubameyang’s quality in when the opportunity arose, while improvements deeper in the team are better saved until the summer, when they have more opportunity to settle and adapt to life in North London.
While his showing against Everton suggests Aubameyang is primed to transfer his Bundesliga scoring form to the Premier League, his arrival coincided with the exit of Olivier Giroud, another decision which may come back to bite the Gunners.
The towering Frenchman offered Arsenal something different to what the similar Aubameyang and Lacazette bring to the table.
Granted, the new Chelsea man would have taken exception to playing a bit-part role compared to the primary forwards, a scenario which would have hurt his chances of playing in the World Cup. However, that decision still leaves Wenger with next-to-little room for tactical maneuvering, with the coach now having lost his most effective Plan B.
Finally, while Giroud was often praised for his professionalism despite being overlooked for a starting role by Wenger, Aubameyang regularly made his discontent known at Borussia Dortmund when things didn’t go his way.
It remains to be seen whether he has the attitude to contribute to an Arsenal side that has been accused of being brittle in the past.
The forward’s tardiness for training Dortmund training, and his regular ‘lapses of discipline’ led to clashes with then-boss Peter Bosz, who had to take charge of the situation and punish the player.
The Dutch manager also accused Aubameyang of “ruining everything” when he saw red for a clumsy challenge at 4-2 in Der BVB‘s 4-4 draw against Schalke after having led 4-0 after 25 minutes.
It was a major indictment of the forward whose attitude remains in question.
Only time will tell how well another player accused of having a bigger ego than his talent will fare in an Arsenal side that have been accused of lacking character in the past.