Paris Saint-Germain are firmly leading the hunt for the signature of Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and could pay up to €85 million to sign him, according to an ESPN FC source.
After a disappointing season, which only saw Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions success, owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) have received a wake-up call louder than the one they failed to heed last summer after UEFA Champions League disappointment.
The PSG project needs reinvigorating and Aubameyang is seen as one of the key parts of that process, along with incoming sporting director Antero Henrique and OGC Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez is another player the French capital outfit have their eye on to help them revons plus grand (the club’s motto of “dream bigger”) once more, but the Chile attacker is less likely to arrive at Parc des Princes than the Gabon international.
Regardless of Sanchez, Aubameyang looks likely to be PSG’s first big-money signing of the summer. The proposed acquisition of the 27-year-old is a big statement from the recently deposed former Ligue 1 champions, who have been lacking in attack since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left for Manchester United on a free transfer last summer.
Edinson Cavani has found his feet once again up top and is firmly back among Europe’s elite strikers after a stellar campaign — 49 goals across all competitions — but outside of the Uruguay international, there is little depth through the middle.
Considering his reputation, the number of clubs interested in him and the fact that he was recently crowned Torjagerkanone (an accolade bestowed on the division’s top scorer) in the Bundesliga after another prolific season at Westfalenstadion, Aubameyang would be a statement move from PSG.
However, bearing in mind Cavani’s presence, staggering recent term in front of goal and contract renewal until 2020, an obvious question is: Where will the man from Laval fit?
Both Aubameyang and “El Matador” prefer to play through the middle. So, if coach Unai Emery continues to play in a possession-based 4-3-3 formation, one of the two will be pushed out wide at the expense of either Angel Di Maria or Julian Draxler.
Considering his recent tax evasion distractions and a poor first half of the season, the Argentina international could be on his way out — along with the frustratingly inconsistent Lucas Moura. The idea could also be to change shape, though, with 4-2-3-1, 4-3-1-2 and 4-4-2 systems all possible.
PSG’s interest in Nice’s Seri is perhaps more telling on that front than the move for Aubameyang, because the Ivory Coast international is a technically gifted midfielder and a key part of Les Aiglons‘ vibrant style of play.
Seri could be the perfect figure to join Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot in a three-man midfield, either behind a front three of Aubameyang, Cavani and one of Di Maria or Draxler, or behind a playmaker like Javier Pastore or Giovani Lo Celso with Aubameyang and Cavani up top.
Both Aubameyang and Cavani are much better and more comfortable through the middle and PSG have become very predictable playing with two wide men in attack, so the addition of the former AS Saint-Etienne man and Seri will make Emery’s side very strong through the middle.
Although Aubameyang and Cavani would be expected to share the goals around a bit more than they are used to, it is possible for them to coexist. But it will be up to Emery to find that balance. All signs point to PSG changing their playing style next campaign.
The signing of Aubameyang alone would not rebuild this ailing PSG side, but it would be a strong first step along the road to reconstruction. The key to this process will not lie with who gets brought in, though; it will depend on who is shown the door to make way for them.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.