Barcelona and Juventus have made formal approaches to sign Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on loan until the end of the season.
The two European giants are understood to have made official contact with Arsenal, although Aubameyang’s destination could hinge on the future of former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata.
The Spain forward, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid at Juventus, has been linked with a transfer to Barcelona this month and the Italian side are expected to push for Aubameyang’s signature if Morata leaves. If he stays at Juventus, as is seen to be more likely at this of the transfer window, then Barcelona will turn their attention to Aubameyang.
Arsenal will not stand in the way of their former captain leaving on loan, but will want his wages, worth up to £350,000 (€420,000) per week, to be covered. There has also been interest in Aubameyang from clubs in Saudi Arabia, but the striker has made it clear that he still wants to play at the top level in Europe.
Aubameyang has not been included on Arsenal’s mid-season trip to Dubai as Arsenal attempt to offload him, and it remains to be seen how he will be treated if he cannot secure a move. Juve’s interest helps Arsenal in their attempts to sign Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo on loan from the Italian side. The two clubs have been locked in talks, with a breakthrough appearing increasingly unlikely before next week’s deadline.
Barcelona’s interest in Aubameyang could also depend on the situation with Ousmane Dembele, who has been told to find another club if he does not renew his contract at the Nou Camp. The Spanish side are also closing in on a deal for Wolves winger Adama Traore, and have signed Ferran Torres from Manchester City.
If Aubameyang is to move to Turin, he will play alongside former Arsenal target Dusan Vlahovic. Arsenal were strongly linked with Vlahovic, who has been prolific for Fiorentina, but the Serb is moving to Juventus and arrived for his medical in Turin yesterday.
Arsenal’s striker situation appears to be increasingly perilous, with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah into the last six months of their contracts. Nketiah is attracting interest from Newcastle United. The various scenarios mean that, as it stands, young forward Folarin Balogun will be the only senior striker in Arteta’s squad as of July this year.
A new forward has long been a priority for Arsenal, but they have been unable to recruit any of the high-quality options they targeted. Vlahovic was always keen to stay in Italy, while Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak would be eye-wateringly expensive. Tammy Abraham was previously a target, but has since left Chelsea for Roma and is impressing under Jose Mourinho in Serie A. Arsenal also admire Lille striker Jonathan David, but he is unlikely to move before the summer.
Unless a striker can be signed this month, the wait will go forward to the summer window. Arteta will have to rely largely upon Lacazette, who has scored three goals in 16 Premier League appearances this season, until that point. Arsenal’s inability to bring players in, despite Arteta publicly stating his desire for new recruits, is in contrast to the club’s outgoings.
The first-team squad is far thinner, thanks to the departures of Ainsley Maitland-Niles (loan to Roma), Pablo Mari (loan to Udinese), Balogun (loan to Middlesbrough), Calum Chambers (free transfer to Aston Villa) and Sead Kolasinac (free transfer to Marseille). It is set to be a busy few days as technical director Edu looks to strengthen the squad.
Telegraph Media Group Limited