Man Utd’s Antony Swoop, Chelsea Move For Aubameyang Headline Deadline Deals

A photo combination of Antony and Aubameyang.

 

Manchester United were the biggest spenders on the Premier League’s transfer deadline day as they splashed out £82 million ($94 million) on Ajax forward Antony, while Chelsea’s frenzied spree culminated with a swoop for Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Against the background of Britain’s cost of living crisis, Premier League clubs showed no caution, reportedly breaking the all-time record spending total for an entire season with an incredible £2 billion changing hands in just one transfer window.

The previous £1.86 billion record from 2017-18 was surpassed because United and their domestic rivals found no outlandish fee or wage demands beyond them.

As of last Thursday, gross spending by the 20 Premier League teams stood at £1.5 billion, surpassing the 2017 record of £1.43 billion spent by English clubs in one close-season window.

United manager Erik ten Hag has been responsible for a large chunk of the spending after returning to his former club Ajax to sign Antony.

The 22-year-old Brazilian is the fourth-most-expensive player in Premier League history.

“This is an incredible moment in my career to be joining one of the most iconic clubs in the world,” Antony said.

United had a busy window, signing Casemiro for £60 million from Real Madrid and Lisandro Martinez from Ajax for £56 million.

Ten Hag sealed another less expensive deal on Thursday as Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka arrived on a season-long loan to serve as back-up to David de Gea.

Even United’s spending pales compared to Chelsea, who splashed out around £240 million as their new American owners made a significant statement in their first window.

Having finally landed Leicester defender Wesley Fofana for a reported £70 million on Wednesday, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel reunited with Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who thrived under the German during their time at Borussia Dortmund.

The 33-year-old cost £10.3 million as he returned to the Premier League nine months after leaving Arsenal following his rift with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

“I’m really happy. It’s an honour to be part of this team and I can’t wait to start. I have some unfinished business with the Premier League so it’s good to be back and really exciting,” Aubameyang said.

READ ALSOPremier League Clubs Shatter Spending Record In £1.9bn Spree

‘Best for the club’ 

Manchester City strengthened their injury-hit defence by signing Swiss international Manuel Akanji on a five-year deal from Dortmund.

Akanji will provide the Premier League champions with extra defensive depth after recent injuries to centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake.

“City have been one of the best teams in Europe over the last few seasons. Coming here feels like the perfect next step in my career,” said Akanji, who cost City a reported £17 million.

Akanji is City’s second raid on Dortmund this summer after their £50 million deal for Norway striker Erling Haaland.

With the window closing at 2200 GMT, Liverpool made a late move by signing Arthur Melo on a season-long loan from Juventus in response to their midfield injury problems.

The 26-year-old Brazilian said: “I’m really happy to be here wearing this great shirt with this famous badge that represents so much in world football. It’s a dream.”

Leicester moved quickly to replace Fofana by signing Belgian Wout Faes from Ligue 1 side Reims, their first major acquisition of the summer.

Fulham signed Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa on a season-long loan and took Wales winger Daniel James on loan from Leeds.

The Cottagers also brought Willian back to the Premier League after the Brazilian winger left Corinthians in August.

Willian, formerly of Chelsea and Arsenal, agreed a one-year contract, saying: “I’m happy to be back in the Premier League. Fulham is a club that wants to improve, that wants to fight for something bigger.”

Senegal midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye returned to Everton from PSG for a nominal fee on a two-year contract.

The 32-year-old played for Everton from 2016 to 2019 before moving to PSG.

Brighton signed Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour from Chelsea for £7.5 million.

Wolves let Leander Dendoncker leave, with the Belgian midfielder joining Aston Villa for £13 million.

Southampton signed Manchester City’s teenagers Samuel Edozie and Juan Larios for a combined £16 million, landed Croatia centre-back Duje Caleta-Car from Marseille, and took Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal.

AFP

African Players In Europe: Aubameyang Reigns In Spain

Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 20, 2022. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a memorable Clasico debut at the weekend, scoring the first and last goals as Barcelona humiliated Real Madrid 4-0 in La Liga at the Santiago Bernabeu.  

The 32-year-old Gabon captain and forward has scored eight goals since a January free-transfer move from Arsenal, helping early-season strugglers Barca rise to third, 12 points behind leaders Real.

“I was very excited to come to Barcelona and do well. It is very easy when you play with such good players,” he said after the rout of Real.

READ ALSO: Aubameyang Scores Brace As Barcelona Humiliate Real Madrid

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European league and cup competitions:

ENGLAND WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

Zaha took his tally for the season to 10 and set up Jean-Philippe Mateta’s goal as Palace stormed into the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in six seasons with a 4-0 thrashing of Everton. The Ivorian was alert to take advantage with a cool low finish for Palace’s third goal after Michael Olise’s looping effort came back off the crossbar.

HAKIM ZIYECH (Chelsea)

Next up for Palace in the last four are Chelsea after they proved too good for Championship side Middlesbrough. Morocco international Ziyech got the second goal in a 2-0 win at the Riverside as he cut inside onto his favoured left foot and arrowed the ball into the far corner for his eighth goal of the season.

RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City)

Mahrez’s tally for the season rose to 22 despite starting on the bench for City’s 4-1 FA Cup win at Southampton. The Algerian was rested by Pep Guardiola, but came off the bench just after the hour mark with the Saints threatening to take the tie to extra time. He rounded off the scoring by wrong-footing Fraser Forster as he whipped the ball in at the near post to set up an enticing semi-final against Liverpool.

SPAIN PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Barcelona)

Aubameyang started the humiliation by heading in Ousmane Dembele’s cross and then finished it, a scooped shot making it four in the second half. Although Barca trail Real Madrid by 12 points with nine rounds remaining, they do have a game in hand.

ITALY ISMAEL BENNACER (AC Milan)

The Algeria midfielder scored on 59 minutes to give league leaders AC Milan a 1-0 win at Cagliari and a three-point advantage over Napoli in the Serie A title race. Bennacer met an Olivier Giroud lay-off with a sumptuous first-time finish from the edge of the box.

VICTOR OSIMHEN (Napoli)

Osimhen scored twice as Napoli came from behind to defeat Udinese 2-1 at home. The Nigerian equalised after 52 minutes and scored the winner 11 minutes later.

MOUSTAPHA CISSE (Atalanta)

The 18-year-old Guinean struck as a substitute on his Serie A debut to earn Atalanta a 1-0 victory away to Bologna. Cisse was signed by the club last month after being spotted playing for a team of refugees in Italy’s eighth tier.

GERMANY ISHAK BELFODIL (Hertha Berlin)

The Algeria striker tapped home a free-kick as Hertha Berlin broke their nine-match Bundesliga winless streak with a 3-0 thrashing of Hoffenheim. With new coach Felix Magath forced to watch from his hotel after testing positive for Covid-19 and Hertha 1-0 up, Marc Oliver Kempf got on the end of a free-kick and passed to Belfodil, who scored with 63 minutes gone to claim his third goal in 21 league games this season.

FRANCE SERHOU GUIRASSY (Rennes)

The France-born forward celebrated his first call-up by Guinea with a hat-trick in Rennes’ 6-1 demolition of Metz. Guirassy has eight Ligue 1 goals this season for a team that has won five matches in a row and is challenging for an automatic Champions League spot.

CEDRIC BAKAMBU (Marseille)

The Democratic Republic of Congo international headed in a crucial late second goal within moments of coming off the bench in Marseille’s 2-1 win over Nice. He has scored three times in six league appearances since arriving on a free transfer in January and was named in his country’s squad for the World Cup play-off with Morocco.

AFP

Clasico Demolition Vindicates Barcelona, Shifts Doubts To Real Madrid

Barcelona’s players celebrate after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 20, 2022. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

A Clasico that was supposed to mean very little, in the end, meant an awful lot as Barcelona gave a resounding answer to questions about their revival and instead left Real Madrid shrouded in doubt.

Most believed there was no result on Sunday that could derail Madrid’s march to the La Liga title but even that feels less certain now. A defeat like this, 4-0 at home, and against Barcelona, was perhaps the only kind that might prompt a collapse.

In that regard, Madrid will be relieved, not only that Barca are still points 12 points adrift, albeit with a game in hand still to play, but that a two-week international break gives them some breathing space, time to stabilise and recover.

It will allow Karim Benzema time to recover too, with the Frenchman’s absence undoubtedly a factor in Madrid’s spinelessness against Barcelona, who took advantage to devastating effect.

Barca’s place in the top four is surely now secure, which will be celebrated by the club’s accountants as much as anyone else.

For all the excitement and enthusiasm generated by Xavi’s team on the pitch, the harsh reality is the club’s financial ills will take longer to cure. Only last week La Liga set Barcelona’s spending limit at -144 million euros.

READ ALSOAubameyang Scores Brace As Barcelona Humiliate Real Madrid

Barcelona’s players celebrate after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 20, 2022. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP 

 

They will certainly believe second place is now a realistic target, particularly given Sevilla’s stuttering form.

They might even look at Madrid’s remaining fixtures to come against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano and wonder if the comeback could yet be on.

“If there is the slightest option to take advantage, we will go for it,” said Sergio Busquets.

More likely, though, is the consequences of this result for both clubs will be longer-term and wider-reaching.

As Barcelona celebrated at the full-time whistle, saluting their fans up in the highest corner of the Santiago Bernabeu, one or two of the younger players began to jump and dance. Before others could join, a huddle was formed and when the players emerged, it was noticeable the celebrations were more restrained.

As Xavi said after the match, it had been a statement victory, one that will go down with even the most dramatic Clasico hammerings, but the table alone shows there is more work to do.

“We have not won a trophy here,” said Xavi. “We must keep working with humility.”

Yet Gerard Pique, never one to hide his opinions on social media, could not resist. “We are back,” he tweeted, while inside the changing rooms the players were ecstatic, among them Ousmane Dembele, who did not look like a player about to leave for free in the summer.

A victory and a performance like this will make current players eager to stay and potential targets want to come.

The problem for Barcelona is, for all the attractiveness of Xavi’s project, they will be restricted again to the kind of opportunistic deals that they struck in January with such success.

Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 20, 2022. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with eight goals in 11 games, has been a revelation.

But to keep pulling off similar deals will be difficult. Barcelona might well be contenders again in La Liga next season but the gap to Europe’s most rich and powerful will take longer to close.

Perspective was the keyword afterwards for Carlo Ancelotti too, who reeled off Real Madrid’s achievements so far this season like a coach who knew he was suddenly under scrutiny.

It is a testament to the depth of the rivalry between Spain’s two biggest clubs that for some, a whole season’s work can be undone in 90 minutes.

“I am very sorry for the defeat, I am very sad but I keep it in perspective, which is that we have a nine-point lead in the league and we’re in the quarter-finals of the Champions League,” Ancelotti said.

The two legs against Chelsea certainly assume greater significance now and it remains to be seen how much confidence is affected for the first game at Stamford Bridge, which is Real Madrid’s second match back after the break.

They will need Benzema fit and firing, with the Clasico underlining the failure of the club to sign suitable cover for the 34-year-old, and of Ancelotti to integrate his possible replacements. The plan to field Luka Modric upfront backfired completely.

Any doubts Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had about Ancelotti’s future longer-term will come into sharper focus, particularly if he thinks one of the world’s most impressive coaches like Mauricio Pochettino, Erik Ten-Haag, or even Thomas Tuchel could be lured in the summer.

Perez has opted for more conservative appointments in recent years, to oversee smooth transitions and to accommodate an iconic group of ageing players, but what the Clasico showed was Xavi’s Barca are a threat that cannot be ignored now. Madrid might also have to be bolder to confront it.

AFP

Aubameyang Scores Brace As Barcelona Humiliate Real Madrid 


Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 20, 2022. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Barcelona stunned Real Madrid with a 4-0 victory on Sunday as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice in a Clasico demolition at the Santiago Bernabeu.

READ ALSO: Messi Absent As Monaco Thrash PSG

The match was billed as a test of Barca’s progress under Xavi Hernandez and they passed with flying colours, a humiliation of their fiercest rivals suggesting they are primed to challenge again for La Liga next season.

AFP

Aubameyang Hat-Trick Fires Barca Past Valencia, Sevilla Slip Up Again


Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Pedri (C) celebrates with teammates Barcelona’s French forward Ousmane Dembele (L) and Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on February 20, 2022. JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang marked his first La Liga start for Barcelona with a hat-trick on Sunday as the Catalans thrashed Valencia 4-1 to climb back into La Liga’s top four.

Aubameyang scored twice in the first half either side of a Frenkie de Jong tap-in as a free-flowing Barca hit Valencia with three goals in 15 minutes before the interval.

And while Valencia briefly raised hopes of a comeback when Carlos Soler headed home Bryan Gil’s cross, a long-range Pedri strike flew in off Aubameyang’s back to complete an impressive victory.

In his post-match interviews, Aubameyang believed the fourth goal was Pedri’s but Barcelona later confirmed the referee had attributed it to Aubameyang, giving the Gabonese striker his hat-trick.

It is the 32-year-old’s first treble since August, when he put three past West Brom for Arsenal, and the first time anyone has hit a hat-trick for Barca since Lionel Messi scored four against Eibar in February 2020.

“It’s a luxury to have a player like him arriving for free,” said Sergio Busquets.

“When he arrived he hadn’t played many minutes but he’s getting them now and I hope he helps us like he has today because he’s a great player.”

READ ALSOMaguire Scores As Man United Continue Push For Champions League Spot

Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Pedri (R) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on February 20, 2022. JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Aubameyang had made two substitute appearances in La Liga before starting against Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday, but this was his first league start for Barcelona since having his contract terminated by Arsenal last month.

The third goal might have been Pedri’s in all but name but Aubameyang was at his pin-point best for the first, as he raced clear and unleashed an emphatic finish.

Xavi singled out Pedri for special praise. “There’s nobody in the world with his talent and he’s only 19,” Xavi said.

Barcelona’s quick-fire treble began with a simple chip over the top from Jordi Alba but Aubameyang still had work to do, the striker taming the ball on its third bounce before firing it high into the net under pressure from Omar Alderete.

The second was more intricate, a superb team goal going through Busquets and Alba before Ousmane Dembele generously sidefooted across for De Jong to finish.

Dembele was key to the third too, as his through ball released Gavi, who crossed to the back post where Aubameyang tapped in a third.

Valencia thought they had a goal back before half-time through Soler’s acrobatic finish but replays showed the ball had rolled out for what should have been a throw-in during the build-up.

Soler, though, scored shortly after the restart, heading in Gil’s whipped cross from the left to revive Valencia, who pushed for a second, with Soler going close with a long-range drive.

But Pedri killed their momentum with his wonder-strike from distance, the youngster curling a stunning shot from 40 yards off Aubameyang’s back and into the top corner, even if goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili might have done better.

Sevilla had earlier stumbled again at Espanyol, another slip meaning they have now won only once in their last five league games.

Rafa Mir put Sevilla in front at Cornella but Sergi Darder equalised for Espanyol early in the second half.

Sevilla’s pursuit of a winner was made harder by Jules Kounde being sent off with 14 minutes left, although Youssef En-Nesyri had a golden opportunity in injury-time, only to see his finish saved.

Anthony Martial, who joined Sevilla on loan from Manchester United in January, went off injured in the first half and could now miss next weekend’s crunch derby at home to third-placed Real Betis.

AFP

I Was The ‘Solution, Not The Problem’,  Arteta Hits Back At Aubameyang

Arteta discusses with Aubameyang during a Premier League match
KIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images

 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said on Wednesday he was the “solution, not the problem” following former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure from the club after a series of disciplinary problems.

Aubameyang left the Emirates Stadium for Barcelona last week after agreeing a contract termination with the English side, allowing him to sign for the Catalan giants on a free transfer.

The 32-year-old Gabon international had not played for Arsenal since December when he was stripped of the captaincy by Arteta after returning late from an agreed break.

READ ALSO: Leaving Arsenal Without Real Goodbye Hurts – Aubameyang

Asked at his unveiling as a Barca player what had happened in London, Aubameyang said: “I don’t think I did anything wrong. I think (the problem) was just with him. He wasn’t happy. I was calm and that’s it.”

But Arteta countered those claims as he addressed reporters on the eve of Arsenal’s Premier League trip to Wolves.

“You ask the question directly to me, so I respond,” he said.

“I am extremely grateful for what Auba has done at the club, for his contribution since I have been here and the way I see myself in that relationship is the solution, not the problem.

“What I am saying is that I’ve been this solution, 100 percent, I can look in the eye of anybody.

“I do lot of things wrong, for sure. But the intention all the time is the best — and not for me, it is for the club and for the team.”

The onus on scoring the goals to keep alive Arsenal’s top-four ambitions in the absence of Aubameyang now falls on Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.

Both men have less than six months remaining on their contracts but Arteta has backed them to fill the void even though Lacazette has scored just three Premier League goals this season and Nketiah is yet to get off the mark in the league.

“Auba’s trajectory at the club and the importance of his goals is unquestionable,” Arteta said, confirming Lacazette would captain the side for the time being.

“But we have other players, and we believe we have other qualities in different ways to try to accomplish the amount of goals that we need in the team. That’s what we are going to try to do.”

AFP

My Problem At Arsenal Was Arteta, Says Aubameyang

Barcelona’s new player Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang speaks during a press conference for his official presentation, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 3, 2022. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

New Barcelona signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has faulted Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta for his exit from the North London side.

Aubameyang was unveiled by Barcelona on Thursday after making his free transfer early in the week. The 32-year-old  is believed to have taken a significant cut on his Arsenal wage, which started at around 300,000 euros ($337,000) a week. Barca continue to be hampered by enormous debts, which amount to more than a billion euros.

READ ALSO: Leaving Arsenal Without Real Goodbye Hurts – Aubameyang

Aubameyang blames Mikel Arteta for his Arsenal exit
Barcelona’s new player Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) poses for pictures with Barcelona’s Spanish sporting advisor Jordi Cruyff (L) and Barcelona’s Spanish President Joan Laporta (C) during a press conference for his official presentation, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 3, 2022. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Speaking at his Barcelona unveiling, the Gabonese forward opened up on the end of his time at Emirates Stadium.

“A difficult few months, I’ve never wanted to do anything wrong, it’s in the past,” he said.

When asked if Arteta was responsible for his exit, he added: “Yeah, I think it was just with him. I can’t say much, he wasn’t happy, I stayed calm and that’s it.”

“He wasn’t happy and that was it. I can’t say anything else because that’s what happened. I wasn’t very happy and I’m better this way,” he added.

Aubameyang and manager, Mikel Arteta’s relationship declined after a disciplinary breach by the 32-year-old led to him being stripped of his captaincy and excluded from a  number of matchday squads further signifying his exit rumours.  In January, Aubameyang was part of the Gabon squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon but missed the first two games with coronavirus before being sent home after team medical staff said they had detected “cardiac lesions”.

The British Press Association reported that Arsenal delayed announcing Aubameyang’s departure as a gesture of respect to Barcelona, whose president, Joan Laporta, said on Tuesday that the official unveiling may come later in the week

Barcelona Sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang left Arsenal without ‘saying goodbye’.

 

Barcelona have signed former Arsenal captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signing until 2025, the club said on Wednesday. 

“It’s Auba time!” declared the club in a tweet which included a video of  Aubameyang declaring “I’m here Barcelona fans! Forza Barca!”

“The player will sign a contract until June 30, 2025, with an option to agree departure on June 30, 2023,” said the club on their web site, adding that the deal for the 32-year-old included a 100 million euros ($113 million) buyout clause.

“Aubameyang is a remarkably fast striker and has an eye for goal, having racked up over 300 as a professional. His powerful but accurate shooting have made him one of the most feared goal-getters in the European game,” said the statement.

READ ALSO: Police Release Man Utd’s Mason Greenwood On Bail

His previous club, Arsenal, on Tuesday released Aubameyang. That cleared the way for the striker, who was already in Spain, to sign for Barcelona as a free agent outside the transfer window which closed on Monday night.

Aubameyang is believed to have taken a significant cut on his Arsenal wage, which started at around 300,000 euros ($337,000) a week. Barca continue to be hampered by enormous debts, which amount to more than a billion euros.

They sit fifth in La Liga, a point behind Atletico Madrid, who they play at home on Sunday when Aubameyang could make his debut. Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund on the last day of the 2018 January transfer window for a reported 56 million pounds, a club record at the time. In almost exactly four years at the club, he appeared in 165 competitive games and scored 92 goals

But his form had dipped rapidly since signing a three-year contract that reportedly made him the Premier League’s highest earner at the time in September 2020.  Aubameyang was dropped for a north London derby last season for arriving late for a team meeting and was stripped of the captaincy in December for what Arsenal described as “his latest disciplinary breach”.

In January, Aubameyang was part of the Gabon squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon but missed the first two games with coronavirus before being sent homme after team medical staff said they had detected “cardiac lesions”. The British Press Association reported that Arsenal delayed announcing Aubameyang’s departure as a gesture of respect to Barcelona, whose president, Joan Laporta, said on Tuesday that the official unveiling may come later in the week

AFP

‘We Wish Him All The Best’: Aubameyang Leaves Arsenal

aubameyang
File photo: Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Watford at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 26, 2020. NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has left Arsenal, the club announced on Tuesday, clearing the way for the striker to sign for Barcelona as a free agent.

The 32-year-old former Gunners captain was visible in pictures from Barcelona training posted on social media on Tuesday.

The Gabonese striker arrived in Spain on Monday just ahead of the end of the January transfer window. But the clubs did not announce a deal before the deadline passed. His release by Arsenal makes him a free agent, able to sign outside the window.

READ ALSO: Premier League Clubs Spend Nearly £300 Million In Transfer Window

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has left the club by mutual agreement,” the Premier League club said in a statement.

“We wish Auba all the best for the next chapter in his career and thank him for his contribution to the club.”

He has not played for Arsenal since being disciplined by the club in December. He was reportedly one of the top-paid players in the Premier League with a basic salary of around 250,000 pounds (300,000 euros or 330,000 dollars) a week.

Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund on the last day of the 2018 January transfer window for a reported 56 million pounds, a club record at the time. In almost exactly four years at the club, he appeared in 165 competitive games and scored 92 goals

In January, Aubameyang was part of the Gabon squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon but missed the first two games with coronavirus before being sent home after team medical staff said they had detected “cardiac lesions”.

The British Press Association reported that Arsenal delayed announcing Aubameyang’s departure as a gesture of respect to Barcelona, whose president, Joan Laporta, said on Tuesday that the official unveiling may come later in the week.

AFP

AFCON: Gabon’s Aubameyang Leaves Cameroon, Returns to Arsenal

In this file photograph taken on January 18, 2017, Gabon’s forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang runs with the ball after scoring a penalty during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group A football match between Gabon and Burkina Faso at the Stade de l’Amitie Sino-Gabonaise in Libreville.(Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

 

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been allowed to leave the Gabon squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and return to his club to continue his recovery from Covid-19, his national team coach said on Monday.

Midfielder Mario Lemina of French side Nice has also been sent back to his club, with neither having played a minute in Gabon’s two matches so far at the Cup of Nations, against the Comoros and Ghana.

“Given the medical problems that Pierre-Emerick and Mario have had, in agreement with the doctor, the president of the federation and the players, we have taken the wise decision to send them back to their clubs so they can be looked after there,” said Gabon coach Patrice Neveu at a press conference in Yaounde.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Rules Put Fans Off Attending AFCON Matches

News of Aubameyang’s positive test, and that of Lemina, emerged on January 6, just four days before his team’s opening AFCON group game.

The duo then tested negative ahead of Gabon’s second match, a 1-1 draw against Ghana on Friday, but both were again left out of the team after some residue from their infection was detected.

Neveu played down concerns that the players had developed inflammation around the heart following their infections, but the Gabonese Football Federation released a statement to say the pair would return to their clubs “to undergo further examinations”.

“There is no major cause for alarm regarding cardiac problems but we are not in a position here to properly analyse what damage could be done by the residue that caused the inflammation,” Neveu said.

“We can’t take any risks, and psychologically it was becoming unbearable for them staying in their rooms. So on Sunday we spoke and decided to let them go home.”

Gabon play Morocco in their last group game on Tuesday, when a draw will secure their path to the knockout phase.

However, they have also lost forward Denis Bouanga for that game after he also tested positive for the coronavirus.

The 32-year-old Aubameyang has not played for Arsenal since December 6 and was stripped of the captaincy shortly after that by manager Mikel Arteta having reportedly returned late from a club-authorised trip to visit his ill mother.

AFP

Aubameyang Recovers From COVID-19, Trains With Gabonese Teammates

In this file photograph taken on January 18, 2017, Gabon’s forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang runs with the ball after scoring a penalty during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group A football match between Gabon and Burkina Faso at the Stade de l’Amitie Sino-Gabonaise in Libreville. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

 

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to training with the Gabon squad ahead of Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations clash with Ghana after testing negative for Covid-19.

The 32-year-old — who is out of favour at Arsenal and was stripped of the captaincy last month — and Mario Lemina both tested positive last week and missed Gabon’s opening 1-0 win over Comoros on Monday.

However, coach Patrice Neveu is isolating after testing positive according to the Gabonese football federation.

READ ALSORefereeing Chaos Tarnishes Image Of Africa Cup Of Nations

Gabon have had a troubled build-up to the biennial continental showpiece tournament.

The Gabonese government had to resolve a dispute between the players and the federation over match bonuses while the Confederation of African Football (CAF) scolded them for breaking the rules in changing hotel in Yaounde.

AFP

Arsenal Star Aubameyang Tests Positive For COVID-19, Says Gabon Coach

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on January 18, 2017, Gabon’s forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang runs with the ball after scoring a penalty during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group A football match between Gabon and Burkina Faso at the Stade de l’Amitie Sino-Gabonaise in Libreville. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

 

Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has tested positive for Covid-19 Gabon coach Patrice Neveu told AFP on Thursday just days ahead of their opening Africa Cup of Nations match.

Aubameyang, team-mate Mario Lemina and assistant coach Yala Anicet all tested positive after taking a lateral flow test and are awaiting the results from a PCR one.

“They underwent a PCR test and are isolating in their hotel,” said Neveu, adding they displayed no symptoms.

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Aubameyang — who was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy last month — is at risk of missing Gabon’s opening Group C match against Comoros on January 10 in the biennial African showpiece tournament being hosted by Cameroon.

They go on to play further matches against Ghana and Morocco.

Gabon enter the finals on the back of a 3-0 defeat by Burkina Faso in a friendly match in Dubai last Sunday.