Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz has joked that striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a "terrible player" in an attempt to keep him from the clutches of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League opponents Real Madrid.
The Dutch boss conceded the Gabonese forward has the quality to play for the Madrid giants but said he hopes he remains at BVB, per Goal's Matthew Scott: "He is a terrible player, very bad, not worth it for Real Madrid. It's a joke. I'm telling you that so he stays with us. He is excellent and has the quality to play for Real Madrid, but I hope he stays here."
Aubameyang, 28, has netted 96 Bundesliga goals for Dortmund in 140 appearances—11 in 12 this season—since joining the club from Saint-Etienne back in 2013.
His consistent goalscoring has made him one of the most coveted strikers in Europe, and he has been heavily linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu in the past, per The Independent.
Real's attacking unit has struggled so far this season with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, usually so prolific in front of goal, returning just four goals combined in La Liga.
Portuguese Ronaldo has netted eight in five games in the Champions League, but he and his team-mates' lack of goals in the Spanish top flight have seen them drop eight points behind leaders Barcelona in the table.
As a result of Los Blancos' poor form it was recently reported Real president Florentino Perez wants to add a number of players to the squad in January and is particularly focused on making attacking improvements.
It would be little surprise were Real to shift their focus to Aubameyang, who continues to score plenty of goals and could feasibly be open to a move away from Dortmund given their current malaise.
Having started the 2017-18 Bundesliga in fine fashion BVB are now sixth in the table following a run of seven games without a win.
And they could be out of Europe completely following Wednesday's clash against Real at the Bernabeu.
Dortmund have no chance of making it to the knockout rounds of the Champions League, but their UEFA Europa League spot is not yet guaranteed after they drew home and away with Cypriot side APOEL back in October and November.
APEOL could supplant Dortmund in third place in Group H if they better the German side's result against Real when they play Spurs on Wednesday at Wembley.