According to British daily Metro, Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang intends to leave his Ligue 1 club Saint-Etienne at the end of the season.
He said: “I want to see something else, find something else. A new challenge,” the 23-year-old Gabon international reportedly said. In a separate report by sports website beINSport on Tuesday, Aubameyang added to the speculation by saying that his French club intend to cash in on him in the summer.
The news has generated huge attention throughout European football, but perhaps nowhere more than in Newcastle. Many sports journalists such as Adrian Back from the International Business Times, as well as Jamie Sanderson from Metro believe that this opens the door for Alan Pardew to acquire the French-born forward.
It is widely believed that Pardew made a strong attempt to lure Aubameyang to St. James’ Park during this January’s transfer winner with a reported £8million offer. But the deal was never finalized. Now other clubs are said to be interested in Aubameyang.
Chelsea, Tottenham and even Manchester City are reportedly interested. Football site Forza Italian Football suggets that Monaco, PSG and Fiorentina are also interested. And there may be more interested clubs in Germany. The price tag for the young, speedy forward is believed to be at least £10million.
Newcastle’s managing director Derek Llambias recently said that they will continue to look at France as their preferred destination for scouting players. Aubameyang and Valenciennes centre-back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin have been seen as the club’s primary targets for weeks now.
What type of player would Newcastle be getting? Aubameyang is tall (1,86cm), physically lean, but technically gifted and very quick. So far this campaign, he has scored 12 times and added another 9 assists in 24 matches for fifth place Saint Etienne. Aubameyang also helped Gabon to a quarter-final birth at the 2012 Africa Cup Of Nations, scoring three goals in the tournament.
But the young forward has generated some negative attention as well. Before a December 2012 Ligue 1 match against Olympique Lyonnais, he donned a pair of football cleats reportedly encrusted with over 4,000 Swarovski crystals, worth approximately £2,500.
In another incident this season, after scoring against Rennes, he put on a Spiderman mask and paraded across the field by shooting imaginary webs. He also has the number 7 shaved into his hair: behaviour that Alan Pardew will very likely take issue with.
Alan Pardew is widely rumoured to be interested in Aubameyang as a long-term replacement for Demba Ba. The deal of course will depend on many factors, but it is undeniable that Aubameyang is a promising prospect and Pardew is in desperate need of goalscorers going forward.