With the official announcement of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's transfer from Ligue 1 side Saint Etienne to Borussia Dortmund confirmed on Thursday, the German giants have made their first step towards building a brand new side in the hope of continuing the success coach Jurgen Klopp has done so well to bring to the club in recent years.
Aubameyang joins die Schwarzgelben after a season in Ligue 1 in which the forward scored 19 goals and created nine assists for his club that eventually saw the southeastern side finish fifth and earn qualification for next season's Europa League.
Yet what truly fascinates most about the capture of Aubameyang is just how formidable he is over a whole range of positions along the forward line. In the young forward, Dortmund and Klopp have not only signed an excellent player, but a whole wealth of options.
In a year that is set to test Klopp's resolve in terms of continuously shuffling his front line to address the departure of some and the determination of others to follow suit, the coach now has one more solution to his multiple problems up front.
As Left Winger
The most likely deployment of the Gabonese forward would seem to be the left-hand side of attack, with Robert Lewandowski still positioned as striker, Jakub Blaszczykowski on the right-hand side and Marco Reus playing through the middle in the No. 10 role.
What this position offers is a simple implementation of the new signing in a position that he should be fairly comfortable with, whilst also addressing the hole left behind by Mario Gotze in the shape of Marco Reus. Of course Reus isn't ensured to succeed in the middle, where he did so well at Gladbach before signing for Dortmund, but he does seem to offer more in the position than anyone else at the club at the moment.
However, what Aubameyang would have to immediately address is the 11 assists and five goals that Reus scored from the left wing last season in the hope of emulating, if not surpassing, such a tally. With only three goals and one assist on the left-hand side last season, this may prove quite the task for the young forward.
As Lone Striker
Regardless of such an optimistic signing, one looming problem that Dortmund may have to deal with this season is that of Robert Lewandowski's willingness to give 100 percent for the club this season. As such, Klopp may be forced into promoting Aubameyang to main striker and keeping Reus out wide left, while Blaszczykowski remains on the right-hand side and Gundogan moves up to the No. 10 role behind the newly appointed striker.
The problem with this formation is, of course, the fact that instead of simply having one unknown, in Aubameyang’s forms for Dortmund this season, we also have the relatively new concept of Gundogan playing behind the striker. The highly technical midfielder did play such a role for four games over the course of last season, scoring two goals in the process, but it still seems like a risk that Klopp would prefer to avoid if possible.
However, the obvious advantage to such a lineup is that Aubameyang would be playing in his most natural position and the role where he spent most of his time at Saint Etienne last season. If Klopp wants to get the best out of his new signing, this may be the position to consider.
As Right Winger
The final option for Klopp in any potential need for endless niggling of his side's front line is, of course, the deployment of Aubameyang as a right-sided winger with Lewandowski as striker, Reus as left-sided winger and Gundogan again in that No. 10 position.
The most unlikely of the three formations is when we consider the concept of Klopp suddenly dropping Blaszczykowski—a winger with 12 goals and 11 assists for Dortmund last season—yet, for the sake of argument, it is worth considering.
Furthermore, when we consider Aubameyang's form from last season, it's rather apparent that despite the forward spending most of his time deployed as a striker for Saint Etienne, he was much more efficient on the right-hand side of the attack.
Of the 19 goals that the forward scored last season, nine came about from his positioning on the right flank of Etienne's attack, three times as many as he scored when placed on the left and two more than he scored whilst playing as a striker. Although Blaszczykowski may be considered as Dortmund's trusted right winger, such stats could well turn Klopp's head if needed.
Yet for now, such headaches can wait until August, when the Bundesliga season returns and such problems will be addressed one way or another with the players Klopp may already have at his disposal or those who have just recently arrived.
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