Borussia Dortmund have admitted they would listen to offers for star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but only if the bids are in excess of £78 million or even £95 million. Real Madrid are rumoured to be in the lead for his services, while Manchester United and Arsenal are also interested.
According to Spanish daily AS (h/t Daily Star's Marc Williams), sporting director Hans-Joachim Watzke opened the door for a possible exit, saying: "If at any time an offer of 100m [£78m] or 120m [£95m] euros for Aubameyang comes to us, then we will discuss.”
Per the report, Aubameyang has already admitted he would love to play for Los Blancos one day, but right now, he wants to continue with Die Schwarzgelben:
Dortmund is a city which is totally crazy about football.
In the last years, we have the highest average attendance in Europe.
I've never made a secret of [the fact] I would someday like to play for Real Madrid, but I also have not extended my contract at BVB until 2020 without a reason.
I feel very good here.
The Gabon international has been in sensational form this season, once again showing why he's consistently mentioned among the best forwards in the world.
Per WhoScored.com, he's been remarkably clinical in front of goal:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Has scored more clear-cut chances (22) than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season #bvb2016-3-30 08:34:36
With 32 goals in 36 matches, per Williams, he has played a huge role in Dortmund's strong season, and the club is on pace to win the UEFA Europa League. They trail Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga standings, but only by five points.
His strong form has led to plenty of transfer speculation, and given the strong evolution Aubameyang has gone through in the last three seasons, it's easy to see why. The former AC Milan forward is no longer the raw speedster who looked like a natural fit out wide―he's become a true all-rounder, capable of scoring in a variety of ways.
His timing and vision for these two goals against Ingolstadt show exactly how far he's come:
The 26-year-old is still improving, evidenced by his scoring output, which has steadily increased every season since he joined Die Schwarzgelben, per WhoScored.com.
Dortmund are expected to battle hard to keep him at the Signal Iduna Park, and for good reason, as Aubameyang currently looks irreplaceable. But so did Robert Lewandowski before he departed for Bayern, and the club did an excellent job replacing the Poland international.
The Bundesliga giants have a fantastic team of scouts that continues to unearth gems, and manager Thomas Tuchel has shown his ability to develop players and get the most out of his squad. His work with Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been superb, and Adrian Ramos has also looked much improved under Tuchel.
On top of that, £78 million or more would be a fantastic addition to the club's budget, per Bleacher Report's Clark Whitney:
Clark Whitney @Mr_Bundesliga
@_ccarts Depends. If you get €100m for Aubameyang, you can fund, well... quite a project2016-3-10 12:44:45
Clubs have sold top players with an eye on successful long-term improvement in the past, and while things don't always work out―Tottenham Hotspur wasted the money of the Gareth Bale sale on the likes of Roberto Soldado and Paulinho―they sometimes do.
Juventus's decision to sell Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid turned out to be one of the best, as it led to the arrivals of Pavel Nedved, Gianluigi Buffon and Lilian Thuram, who all played a major role for the club in the years that followed.
If United, Arsenal or Real are willing to spend upwards of £78 million on Aubameyang, it could open the door for a number of arrivals, and if the money is spent wisely, the club should eventually benefit.
A summer move seems unlikely, however. Aubameyang continues to express his love for the club and the city of Dortmund, and he appears to have his eyes set on a move to Madrid, and Madrid only.