“A present from heaven,” was how Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez described the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the striker, discarded by Arsenal, has definitely delivered. It’s arduous to think about a extra vital January acquisition than Aubameyang, given his impression on Barca’s quick and long-term future. By the top of the season, Aubameyang’s objectives may very well be the most important think about Barcelona ending in La Liga’s high 4, an achievement that might show transformative.
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He has scored 9 objectives in 12 video games to date, together with a hat-trick in opposition to Valencia and two in opposition to Actual Madrid.
Lacking out on the Champions League subsequent season would have derailed Barcelona’s monetary restoration and destabilised the whole challenge underneath Xavi, who seems an astute appointment now however was unproven when he took his first main teaching job in November.
Barcelona’s fortunes have circled so dramatically that they now have two probabilities to qualify for the Champions League.
They might end within the high 4 in La Liga, the place they’re second after overhauling Sevilla on Sunday, or they may win the Europa League the place they’re clear favourites.
They face Frankfurt on Thursday within the first leg of the quarter-finals, with the winner to face Lyon or West Ham within the final 4.
The 32-year-old Aubameyang’s departure from Arsenal mid-season continues to trigger debate in England, with some questioning Mikel Arteta’s resolution to let the striker go away at no cost, significantly given the workforce’s struggles to attain objectives.
Many say the knowledge of that transfer will rely totally on whether or not Arsenal end within the Premier League’s high 4 and qualify for the Champions League for the primary time because the 2016-17 season.
“I feel (the issue) was simply with him and after he made this resolution, I can’t let you know a lot, he wasn’t comfortable and that’s it. I used to be not very comfortable, I used to be very calm and that’s it,” Aubameyang stated in February of Arteta.
Maybe extra to the purpose is that in January, Arsenal and Barcelona had very completely different priorities.
Whereas Arteta was nurturing and defending a younger Arsenal workforce for the long run, Barcelona wished to patch collectively a short-term squad able to averting impending monetary catastrophe.
Aubameyang’s disciplinary issues, age and lack of health meant he not fitted in with Arteta’s long-term imaginative and prescient.
‘A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE HIM’
However his objectives, expertise and ego made him the proper match for a Barcelona facet desperately in want of a fast repair.
“Auba has been a present from heaven,” stated Xavi.
“He’s a participant who’s optimistic, has taken very effectively to the dressing room, he adapts very effectively to the wants of the workforce, he scores. It’s a privilege to have him and he’ll contribute so much to us.”
Barcelona’s veteran defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets agreed. “He’s working rather well,” stated the 33-year-old.
“He got here needing extra minutes however he’s getting them. I hope he retains contributing like this as a result of he’s an ideal man. Getting him on a free switch is a present.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta confirmed that Aubameyang’s contract runs till 2025 however has a break clause on the finish of subsequent season, in 2023.
He will probably be virtually 34 by then and it appears totally believable that Barcelona, who nonetheless have huge money owed to erase and a hefty wage invoice to trim, will transfer Aubameyang on.
It’d effectively be that after a powerful first stage, Aubameyang’s personal starvation and drive start to fade. Barcelona may face the identical issues Arsenal did.
Regardless of the end result it should nonetheless be arduous to argue the deal for Aubameyang to hitch Barca was not a roaring success.
If Aubameyang does nothing else, his position in vindicating Xavi and securing qualification for the Champions League this season could have been immense, and for that Barca ought to at all times be grateful.
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