With just hours to go, Chelsea got their man. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge throughout the summer transfer window, but it took until deadline day for Chelsea to finally strike an agreement with Barcelona and get the deal over the line.
Aubameyang arrives at Chelsea just months after joining Barcelona from Arsenal. The former Gunners captain fell out with manager Mikel Arteta at the Emirates Stadium, and that led to a parting of ways. The arrival of Robert Lewandowski at Barcelona then pushed Aubameyang down the pecking order at Camp Nou, and so he finds himself back in the Premier League, hoping to boost Chelsea’s standing in the odds on the Premier League title winners.
It’s fair to say that Aubameyang has a point to prove in England after his spell at Arsenal ended in such ignominy. It was disciplinary issues that ultimately cost him, but he had been struggling for form for a long time before that, and the goals simply weren’t flowing as they once did. The Gabon international, now 33 years of age, will be keen to prove he still has what it takes to score freely in the Premier League.
Chelsea are in desperate need of a goalscorer. The near £100 million signing of Romelu Lukaku last summer simply didn’t work out, and with both he and Timo Werner departing Stamford Bridge this summer either permanently or on loan, Thomas Tuchel was missing an out-and-out striker who could lead the line.
There were rumours that Chelsea would make a move for Cristiano Ronaldo, with new owner Todd Boehly hoping to make a big splash in his first full season in control of the club. However, Tuchel apparently put a stop to a potential deal for the Manchester United star, and it is Aubameyang who is tasked with filling the void in attack instead.
However, it’s unclear if Chelsea have just been unfortunate in the fact that neither Werner or Lukaku could find their best scoring form in a blue shirt, or if it’s a result of Tuchel’s tactical system that means attackers struggle to hit the required heights. Aubameyang’s arrival is as much a test of whether any striker can excel in Tuchel’s Chelsea team as it is a test of his own personal abilities.
At 33, it’s a signing for the here and now. There will be pressure on Aubameyang to hit the ground running and start bagging goals straight away. Chelsea have suffered an indifferent start to the 2022-23 Premier League season — winning three, drawing one and losing two of their first six matches. Having scored just eight goals in those six games, it’s clear where the problems lie at Stamford Bridge.
The advantage of bringing in Aubameyang is that Tuchel knows him from when they worked together at Borussia Dortmund. Those were arguably the best years of his career, and if the German coach can coax that kind of form out of the Gabon star once again, then Chelsea supporters could be in for some exciting performances.
However, after an inauspicious start to the campaign, there is huge pressure on all parties for this move to work out, and quickly.