Sunday 18 February 2018

Arsenal ‘nowhere near’ a deal for Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, admits Arsene Wenger

Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a target for Arsenal (John Walton/Empics)
Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a target for Arsenal (John Walton/Empics)

Jonathan Liew

Arsenal are “nowhere near” agreeing a deal with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsene Wenger has admitted. The Gabon striker was left out of Dortmund’s squad for the Bundesliga game against Hertha Berlin amid speculation over a £44 million move.

He would be a potential replacement for the departing Alexis Sanchez, who has already said his goodbyes to the Arsenal squad and who, according to Wenger, is likely to complete his transfer to Manchester United within the next 48 hours, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving in the opposite direction.

But speaking after Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace, Wenger played down the speculation over Aubameyang. “No, nothing is happening,” Wenger said. “He can be left out of the Dortmund team for different reasons. Certainly not for transfer reasons at the moment.

“We are nowhere near anything with Dortmund. They are responsible for their own statements. I cannot stand up for what they say. If we sign somebody, we’ll announce it. I half-announced Sanchez against Mkhitaryan, because that’s likely to happen. All the rest: we are not close at all to anything.”

On Sanchez, Wenger said he left him out of the matchday squad because “you cannot drive up north and play football as well”. He added: “I expect it to happen, but I cannot announce it because in the next 48 hours it will be decided one way or the other. The negotiations become more and more long.

“If you want to have a bet, it could happen. It happens one way only if the other way [Mkhitaryan] happens as well. That’s why it takes longer, because it has to be co-ordinated, so the pace of advancing on both sides has to be adjusted.”

Arsenal were at their scintillating best during the first 25 minutes against Palace, surging into a 4-0 lead, and Wenger admitted that the uncertainty over Sanchez’s situation over recent weeks had affected the atmosphere at the club.

“What is very difficult is that for the first time in January, we are losing one of our big players,” he said.

“So it’s a bit more destabilising than usual, but especially the period of uncertainty. Once the situation is clear, the team responds and is focused. It’s not only losing a world-class player, it’s that the period of uncertainty that creates a strange feeling in the dressing room.”

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