Arsenal have been tipped to seal the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this month as the player appears to have reached the end of the line at Borussia Dortmund after 'disciplinary reasons' saw him left out of the squad for the club's game against Wolfsburg on Sunday.
According to Der Westen, he is said to have skipped the final team meeting following training ahead of the game, choosing to leave and drive straight home instead.
Dortmund confirmed Aubameyang's absence prior to the game and teenage forwards Alexander Isak and Jadon Sancho both started the game, which ended 0-0.
Sporting director Michael Zorc then issued what seemed like a admission that the player's day at Westfalenstadion could well be numbered.
💬 Michael #Zorc on #Aubameyang: "We simply cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour. I don't know what's going on in his head right now. He has always been a professional. I don't want to take part in media speculation, but we can't continue like this anymore." [via Sky] #BVB— Ralf Hildenbrand (@ralfhil) January 14, 2018
"We simply cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour. I don't know what's going on in his head right now. He has always been a professional. I don't want to take part in media speculation, but we can't continue like this anymore," he was quoted as saying by Sky Deutschland.
Meanwhile, Aubameyang was the subject of an alleged racist jibe from journalist Karlheinz Wild during the reporter's appearance on Kicker.tv the previous evening. Speaking about a prospective move to Bayern Munich, Wild had suggested that Aubameyang wouldn't be able to 'raise the monkey circus' were he to join the Bavarian giants.
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these days German’s Journalist are attacking me, while remaining correct until today. i think this reporter could have used another word "affenzirkus »👉🏽 « Circus of Monkey ». on the right Side of the picture that is when I tap on Google affenzirkus . I leave you to judge!! 2018 🤨🤔sorry for my English
Wild later claimed he had not intended his remark to be racist and declared that he was merely referring to Aubameyang's off-field 'extravagance'. But the damage was already done.
"A sh***y journalist treating my son like a monkey. I have the feeling that he wishes for the times back under Hitler. I just think that the little monkey and his family have to disappear here," Aubameyang's father, Pierre, is reported by Der Westen to have said in response.
This is where Arsenal may have their opportunity to swoop, potentially tying up a deal for Aubameyang as a replacement for Alexis Sanchez.
Hearing Aubmayeng expects to join a new club in the next 24 hours. Arsenal...?— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) January 14, 2018
Commenting on the star's apparent desire to leave Dortmund for 'more than a year', Bundesliga expert Lee Price is quoted by the Daily Express as saying, "It was Dortmund's belief that the Premier League cash would come eventually and it appears they will now get their wish."
Price suggests that while Arsenal would not necessarily have been Aubameyang's first choice, it is very much a 'match of convenience' in the circumstances.
He added, "I understand the contract which has been agreed will make him the club's record earner ever. It's now up to a fee to be agreed with Arsenal and the Sanchez sale to be wrapped up."
The one obstacle that may yet appear concerns any interest Manchester City could pursue in Aubameyang if they lose out on Sanchez to local rivals United. A move to the Etihad Stadium to work with Pep Guardiola would likely be more appealing for the Dortmund man, but only time will tell how this rather complicated saga ultimately plays out.
As things stand, Arsenal look to be firm favourites.