Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has reportedly agreed to join Real Madrid in the summer despite recent insistence from the German club that he is not for sale.
According to German outlet Express (h/t Colin Harvey of the Daily Star), Real will pay €100 million (£77.1 million) for the Gabon international, beating Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea to the signing.
The news comes swiftly on the back of comments from Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke that made it very clear Aubameyang, 26, was not for sale, per Antony Kastrinakis in the Sun:
The position is clear. Auba plays for Borussia Dortmund and the next years he will play at Borussia Dortmund. No question. There is no get-out clause. Money is a thing that can solve all other things. But it’s not realistic.
Clubs of the Premier League have a lot of money. But so much as to get Aubameyang? It’s a little bit difficult. It’s not question of money. We have money. We have no Sheikh. No Roman Abramovich. But we have money. We don’t need money. We need success in playing football.
Our profession is not to make deals. Our profession is to make a good team and play football. We had all the patience in the world with Aubameyang because we saw the potential in him.
Aubameyang's 22 goals in 24 Bundesliga matches this season have made him one of the most coveted strikers in Europe, per WhoScored.com.
The spectre of a transfer ban hangs over Real after the summer's window, thus they will likely be looking to make some big moves at the end of the season.
Aubameyang would be a fantastic signing as he could bring brilliant pace and finishing to a Real front line that needs strengthening.
Cristiano Ronaldo, 31, is still making a huge contribution to the side, not least in the UEFA Champions League, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
.@Cristiano Ronaldo has scored or assisted 16 CL goals for @realmadriden this season (13 goals, 3 assists) – 8 more than any other player2016-3-8 21:15:14
But he has been whistled by Real's fans recently, and Sky Sports' Guillem Balague believes he is past his peak.
Aubameyang would be the ideal long-term replacement for Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu to play alongside Gareth Bale.
While they are not positionally identical—Aubameyang being a more traditional central striker and Ronaldo more inclined to come in off the flank—in terms of weight of goals they are similar.
And the Dortmund man can also score goals a variety of ways, and his pace and aerial ability make him a nightmare for opposition defences—see some examples below:
Although Real remain one of the biggest clubs in the world and are still very much in the hunt this season for the Champions League, their recent La Liga record is awful.
They are effectively out of this year's title race in Spain, meaning Los Blancos's record is set to move to one Spanish top-flight triumph in eight seasons.
Despite their numerous superstars, they still need a squad overhaul if they are to properly compete with Barcelona again next season.
Aubameyang would be a fine addition for manager Zinedine Zidane and would give the Frenchman more high-quality variations in attack.
However, the deal may not be done just yet, as Watzke seemed fairly adamant the striker was not for sale.