Monday 17 December 2018

Giroud Chelsea deal key to Aubameyang swoop


Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud. Photo: Getty Images
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud. Photo: Getty Images

Jeremy Wilson and Matt Law

Arsenal have had a club-record £55.4m (€63m) offer accepted by Borussia Dortmund for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the deal could yet hinge on whether they allow Olivier Giroud to join rivals Chelsea.

As revealed yesterday morning, a week of negotiations was concluded after Arsenal increased their first offer of £44m (€50m) to beyond £55m (€63m), but Dortmund still want to secure a replacement before the deal is formally announced.

Giroud has been among the options for Dortmund - and separate talks were held yesterday over a loan or permanent deal - but there is also now strong interest from Chelsea and it is understood the France striker would prefer to stay in London.

Chelsea, in turn, are ready to loan Michy Batshuayi to Dortmund and, knowing Aubameyang's move to Arsenal hinges on the Bundesliga club sourcing a replacement, hoped that would increase their chances of signing Giroud.

Batshuayi had been expecting to join Sevilla on loan, but has now agreed to join Dortmund.

Chelsea's striker search has also involved Roma's Edin Dzeko, but a potential deal faltered over the champions' refusal to pay big transfer fees or offer contracts of longer than 12 months to players aged 30 and over.

That policy would also be an issue with 31-year-old Giroud, whom Arsenal value at £30m (€34m). Arsenal are open to a loan, but would favour recouping a sizeable fee.

After losing Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, Arsenal would have preferred not to help another rival for Champions League football.

That stance, though, may have to be weighed up against whether Chelsea will put the entire Aubameyang transfer at risk by calling off Batshuayi's move to Dortmund.

One alternative for Dortmund is Tianjin Quanjian's Anthony Modeste, whose agent, Patrick Mendy, yesterday described them as an "interesting" option. Arsenal have offered Aubameyang a contract worth £180,000 (€205,000) a week until 2021 and the 28-year-old is keen to link up with former Dortmund colleague Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Having also sold Theo Walcott, and with Giroud now likely to leave, Arsene Wenger, the manager, wanted only a player who would improve his starting team and Aubameyang has established himself as one of the most prolific strikers in Europe.

Arsenal sent a delegation headed by Ivan Gazidis, the chief executive, which also included new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy, to Dortmund for negotiations last week.

Mislintat was instrumental in bringing both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan to Dortmund and the signings will be interpreted as a sign of his impact and influence.

Other than Dzeko and Giroud, Peter Crouch and Islam Slimani have been the subject of surprise inquiries from Chelsea. There is also still the possibility of a shock swoop to take Fernando Llorente from Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsenal have also been interested in defender Jonny Evans, but a deal is now more likely in the summer, when his contract will have only one year left and West Brom will have to lower the current £20m asking price.

Chelsea have also agreed to sign Roma left-back Emerson Palmieri for£24.6m. His medical will take place today.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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