Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has fuelled speculation he could be set for a January move to the Premier League after missing the club's first day of training back from the winter break.
According to AFP (h/t Sky Sports), the striker was absent with the club tweeting, "He missed training due to a personal appointment. Will be back tomorrow." Though as the report noted, Arsenal have been linked with a move for him.
Per AFP, his team-mate Matthias Ginter said: "We all hope he'll [Aubameyang] stay. He's very important, on the pitch and off, for what he contributes to the group atmosphere."
Earlier this season, Bundesliga expert Clark Whitney drew parallels between winger-turned-striker Aubameyang and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry:
Difference between Aubameyang & Walcott is that the former, like Henry, was able to take his game to the next level after moving to CF— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) October 22, 2015
While comparing almost any player to one of Henry's stature in talent is a bold claim indeed, Aubameyang has been in majestic form this season racking up a staggering 27 goals and six assists in 27 appearances.
As Whitney also noted, the Gabon international is therefore crucial to BVB's fortunes and so they are unlikely to part with him, particularly for anything less than a fortune:
SportBild: BVB want €60m for Aubameyang. Would be stupid to sell him, imo, considering he's irreplaceable & under contract until 2020— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) November 18, 2015
Will Arsenal sign Aubameyang?
To land a player of his quality in January is always exceedingly difficult, while frugal Gunners boss Arsene Wenger might also be reluctant to splash the cash on a player he once turned down in a relatively cheap deal.
The 26-year-old is a quick and prolific player who could add further cutting edge to Arsenal's attack—one that would give them a serious advantage over struggling rivals like Manchester United and Chelsea.
Arsenal might need to wait until at least the summer to get him, though, if they're able and willing to prise him away from Dortmund at all.
A cheaper option would be Juventus forward Simone Zaza, who has been often overlooked this season despite netting five times in just 369 minutes on the field. The Italian would likely welcome a move given his lack of game time makes a spot in Italy's Euro 2016 squad unlikely.
According to the MailOnline's Rory Brigstock-Barron, the 24-year-old has been linked with a loan move to the Gunners, but Bianconeri coach Massimiliano Allegri is determined to keep his man. He said:
I don't understand why he should go away, there should not be this storm about him.
I speak to him every day, he is a player with great quality who has improved a lot and is important for us, so it's fair that he stays here. We have four top-quality players in attack and they should fight for their places.
Football writer and broadcaster Mina Rzouki ran the rule over the striker:
Sorry guys! It was a great finish from Zaza but he has limitations that you will see eventually. Works hard, physical, great finisher BUT— Mina Rzouki (@Minarzouki) September 30, 2015
can be extremely selfish and yet to understand how to accomodate the others.— Mina Rzouki (@Minarzouki) September 30, 2015
Despite his weaknesses, he could be a useful option for Arsenal until the end of the season, but it seems he's set to remain in Turin for the time being.
Ahead of next season, the Gunners reportedly want to bring on-loan 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny back into the fold.
According to the Mirror's John Cross, the Pole is at Roma for the season but has been handed a lifeline at the Emirates Stadium, as current back-up stopper David Ospina could be set to pursue a move in search of first-team football with Petr Cech firmly considered the No. 1 choice.
Szczesny himself might not be too enamoured by the prospect of returning to the bench at Arsenal, though, so it would hardly be a surprise if he too seeks a new club in the summer.