Saint-Etienne’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been a revelation in Ligue 1 since he joined Christophe Galtier’s side on a permanent deal shortly after arriving on loan in 2011.
Aubameyang is currently the second-highest goalscorer in the French top flight behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with 16 goals to his name. The Gabonese international recently linked himself with the Swede’s club Paris Saint-Germain when quizzed on a potential summer move by L’Equipe (per Sky Sports):
"Yes, of course a move to PSG would be attractive. But do the Parisian officials want me? I don't know. We will see. It would be nice to play in attack with Ibra, wouldn't it?"
It certainly would, one imagines. Although it would be just as nice to see the duo paired in attack as a spectator, raising the possibility that PSG might actually consider a summer swoop.
Ligue1.com claims a host of European vultures are circling the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, coveting his signature, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham. However, Carlo Ancelotti’s side and Ligue 2 moneybags Monaco, who are on course to return to Ligue 1 this summer, are the only interested French clubs, per French source Mercato365.com.
The 23-year-old’s admission makes a transfer to the capital club now possible. Saint-Etienne know that the only chance they stand of being able to keep hold of their star man is by qualifying for the Champions League next season. But even that might not be enough, as Aubameyang will expect any potential suitors to offer the same continental competition.
The big question at the start of this season was—following his achievements last term, when he netted 16 goals and six assists in 36 appearances—whether he had the consistency to replicate those figures.
Sixteen goals and seven assists in 28 appearances so far this season proves that he does. In fact, he has bettered that tally already.
The Gabonese is still only 23-years-old, but already has plenty of Ligue 1 experience. He is versatile, in that he has played out wide for Dijon, Lille and Monaco in loan spells before finally being transformed into a striker by Les Verts’ canny boss, Galtier.
A tally of 32 goals and 13 assists in not even two seasons is an impressive haul, especially for a player that had previously been considered a winger. Auba’s conversion into a centre-forward under Galtier has proved an inspired move.
Galtier’s side is set up to attack with a speed and ferocity that, coupled with a strong defence, makes the team difficult to play against—especially away from home. Aubameyang suits that style perfectly. Utilising his pace and killer instinct, he interchanges between a central role and one on either flank when playing in tandem with Brandao, Yohan Mollo or both.
Given rumours from Spanish TV station Punto Pelota (via The Express) that Atletico Madrid’s Falcao could be in secret talks with Chelsea over a transfer, it is the perfect time for PSG to flex their financial muscle once again to secure one of Europe’s top talents.
It is also a good opportunity for the capital club to once again invest in players within Ligue 1, something that has attracted criticism in France (French language).
Why is it important that PSG reinvest in Ligue 1 talent? Whilst currently overpriced, in time, those fees would become normal again, when other teams see that it is not a one-off occurrence that PSG are buying within the league.
If Les Parisiens buy some of the best current domestic players, instead of allowing them to go overseas, Ligue 1 would grow in stature, and smaller clubs would benefit from the capital club's affluence in a trickle-down effect.
Aubameyang’s versatility makes him potentially more valuable to PSG than the arrival of a Wayne Rooney would be at this stage. Ancelotti’s side are in the process of fine-tuning. Adding a player who is more likely to be adapt quickly because of his familiarity with the league and the language makes more sense than taking a big-money gamble.
Of course, I am not saying that Aubameyang is a better player than Rooney, I’m not. For a start, they are different players with in different styles. However, I do think that the Gabonese is a better fit for PSG right now than the Englishman.
Until summer at least, Aubameyang will keep proving himself in Ligue 1 as Saint-Etienne's charge for Champions League qualification continues.
By the time the season finishes, the queue for his signature will no doubt have grown once again.