Arsenal can do Barcelona swap deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to cut wage bill by £2.6m

Arteta reflects on 'unpleasant situation' as Aubameyang stripped of Arsenal captaincy

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Barcelona are reportedly eyeing a move for Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January. The striker’s future has been plunged into doubt after he was dropped for the match against Southampton and stripped of the captaincy by Mikel Arteta due to a disciplinary issue.

The 32-year-old was left out of the squad and it was later revealed that he had been disciplined by the club for returning late from a personal trip.

The Gunners went on to record a 3-0 win at the Emirates on Saturday without their talisman, but the topic of Aubameyang’s future dominated the headlines.

Arsenal boss Arteta stated in no uncertain terms that Aubameyang had fallen short of his “non-negotiable terms” to represent the club as captain and had been punished as a consequence.

“The decision that we have taken as a club is very clear,” the Spaniard stated.

“It is because we believe that he has failed to be committed at the level that we all expect and agreed. It is as simple as that.

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“What I expect from any person in this football club, that is representing this badge, is passion and that he gives absolutely 100 per cent, that he puts the club in front of any personal interests and is able to do anything to fulfil the badge we have on the chest.

“Apart from that, you can listen to individuals and you can understand different cultures, but that commitment and passion has to be there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.”

His public fallout with the club could lead Barcelona to reigniting their interest, with The Independent reporting that the Catalan giants are monitoring the situation. 

Head coach Xavi Hernandez is understood to be desperate to sign a new striker in January due to their struggles for goals, with summer signing Luuk de Jong now surplus to requirements and Sergio Aguero suddenly retired.

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Barca have been strongly linked with Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani, who is out of contract next summer and can discuss a pre-contract agreement in January.

But Aubameyang is also thought to be on Xavi’s shortlist and, if he leaves Arsenal in January, it would resolve the Blaugrana’s problem as they look to recover from a poor start to the season.

Aubameyang signed a lucrative three-year contract in 2020 worth a reported £250,000-a-week to keep him at the club.

But since putting pen to paper, the veteran forward has struggled to replace his form and only notched 10 league goals last season.

Barcelona’s precarious financial situation means they would not be able to offer a pay rise on his current deal. However, a swap deal agreement, as opposed to paying a hefty fee, to sign Aubameyang may be explored as a possible option.

The report adds that intermediaries have floated the idea of swapping Aubameyang for Ousmane Dembele, the French winger who cost £107m to sign in 2018.

Dembele has been plagued by injury since arriving in Catalonia and was withdrawn with a muscle injury during their 2-2 draw with Osasuna on Sunday.

But the 25-year-old would still represent a decent addition for the north London side and if Arteta is able to negotiate a deal, it would benefit the club financially.

Both players are understood to fall into the same wage bracket of earning above £200,000-a-weel, although Aubameyang is understood to rake in around £30,000 to £50,000 more.

With that in mind, the deal would guarantee Arsenal a saving of around £2.6m-per-year on their wage budget if the Gabonese striker were to head to Camp Nou in exchange for Dembele.

By flogging out-of-favour Aubameyang and replacing him with an exciting player in Dembele, such a deal would be regarded as a win-win scenario for Arsenal.

Aubameyang, who arrived at the Emirates Stadium in January 2018 in a deal worth £55m from Borussia Dortmund, has scored 92 goals in 163 appearances and played a key role in their FA Cup success in 2020.

He also netted 22 goals during the 2019-20 campaign, which saw him share the Golden Boot with Liverpool stars Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

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