A pair of high-profile transfers are being discussed in Premier League circles as another week of the coronavirus shutdown comes to a close.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract situation at Arsenal has been a hot-button topic of late, given the amount of uncertainty surrounding his future with the club. Aubameyang is scoring in bunches at Arsenal, one of the few bright spots for the Gunners this season, bagging 17 goals in 26 Premier League appearances so far this campaign before the shutdown. That has demand for his services high, and with his contract expiring in the summer of 2021, Arsenal has to make a decision fast on his future to avoid his value plummeting or even worse, him leaving on a free transfer.
While contract extension talks are rumored to begin in the summer, there’s not much wiggle room and Arsenal could find themselves looking to sell if things don’t go as planned. According to a report by ESPN FC senior writer James Olley, Chelsea has kept tabs on Aubameyang’s contract situation and could be among the litany of clubs that make a play if the Gunners can’t come to terms with the Gabon international.
The Blues have been extremely public about their search for a striker with talismanic frontman Tammy Abraham injured, despite the presence of Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi. They courted a number of strikers this past winter, including Lyon lead man Moussa Dembele, then-AC Milan goalscorer Krzysztof Piatek, and Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic. They are reportedly in for Dembele this summer as well, but at 23 years old and with three seasons remaining on his contract, he could be a pricey addition compared to Aubameyang who is peaking late and in a much more flexible contract situation.
Olley’s report reinforces the understandable belief that Arsenal could use a sale of Aubameyang to finance a club overhaul given that the Gunners have not made the Champions League in some time, with club executives repeatedly drumming the narrative that missing Europe’s top competition is affecting their bottom line. Could Aubameyang be enticed by a move across London rather than across country borders? Chelsea will likely have to contend with a number of other suitors, reportedly including Barcelona and Inter Milan.
According to Spanish outlet Sport, Barcelona and Everton have forged a good relationship over the past few years and that is set to pay off as the Toffees now appear to be leading the chase for the Brazilian playmaker. While Coutinho flopped hard at Barcelona since joining from Liverpool in 2018, he has recovered some of his value on loan at Bayern Munich this season. Still, it appears that Bayern do not wish to make the deal permanent and Barcelona wishes to move on, opening an opportunity. Enter Everton, who surprisingly has reportedly jockeyed into a lead role for the former Liverpool star.
The report states that Everton would take Coutinho on a loan with an obligation to buy. The two clubs have done deals in the recent past, with Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne all heading to Merseyside in recent years. In addition, Coutinho would have a Brazilian international to work with up front in Richarlison, which could add intrigue to the deal for Coutinho.
Sport says that while Barcelona hopes to recover the $97 million they paid for Coutinho over two years ago, the club understands that in the current climate that may not be possible, and therefore could potentially lower their price to as low as $81 million. The report also mentions that Liverpool is uninterested in bringing Coutinho back to Anfield, paving the way for Coutinho’s ultimate heel-turn for Reds fans.