Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been instructed by the club to "give fewer interviews" regarding a possible transfer, per Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung (via Stefan Coerts for Goal).
"We have had a brief meeting with Aubameyang and have advised him to give fewer interviews about his plans for the summer and focus more on the race for Champions League qualification," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said.
The Gabon international recently cast doubt over his future at the club when he told Fussball Bild that "it is possible that in June a club comes to an agreement with Dortmund" (h/t Jack Davies for Goal).
Despite the striker's openness, Zorc has assured fans that the relationship between the club and player has not soured since their meeting.
"We have a great relationship with him," he said, per Coerts, "but we had to do something to show our focus is on the sporting aspect of the game."
Refocusing on the league is good advice. Dortmund are fourth in the Bundesliga, one point behind Eintracht Frankfurt and 14 points shy of league leaders Bayern Munich.
Manager Thomas Tuchel's side have drawn three of their last four league games, and Aubameyang has scored only once during this run—although he missed the 2-1 win against Werder Bremen while on duty with Gabon at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Nevertheless, Aubameyang remains top goalscorer at the club with 16 goals in the Bundesliga, one of the best figures across Europe's top five leagues, as highlighted by Squawka on Twitter:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Most goals scored in Europe's top 5 leagues this season: E. Cavani (21) A. Lacazette (18) L. Suarez (16) P-E. Aubameyang (16) https://t.co/zC9zZ7ThHi2017-1-30 09:31:08
The timing of Aubameyang's latest revealing interview on Tuesday, then, was clearly a mistake. Zorc's decision to warn their forward about his off-the-field conduct makes sense, and few would argue with Dortmund's desire to put an end to the speculation.
However, Aubameyang is unlikely to stick around for much longer should Dortmund's poor form continue. He is a long-term target of Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola already having spoken to the player's agent and father last summer, according to Neil Fissler of the Daily Express.
Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and AC Milan are also interested in the 27-year-old, per Fissler, although it is unlikely that either of the Italian clubs could match the wages Aubameyang would be offered by Real or Man City.
Dortmund may already be thinking about how to replace their star striker, having completed the signing of 17-year-old Alexander Isak from Swedish side AIK Solna on Jan. 23 for £8.6 million.
The highly regarded Sweden international has been compared to compatriot Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the past, but Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe thinks he is more like Dortmund's wantaway forward Aubameyang, whom he may be succeeding in the long term:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
According to Marca, Real Madrid are keen on "the new Zlatan" Alexander Isak but he reminds @stighefootball more of Aubameyang and Firmino 🇸🇪 https://t.co/qGFCdOZFOE2016-12-8 12:01:16
It is not out of the ordinary for Dortmund to be planning for the future in this manner, but for now, all attention must be focused on the final 16 games of the Bundesliga season.
If they aim to finish in the top three, they will need Aubameyang fully focused—which means putting a stop to the rumour-fuelling interviews.