John Aldridge: Liverpool have had a lucky escape by not signing greedy Dortmund star Aubameyang
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PIERRE-Emerick Aubameyang could have been a dream signing for Liverpool this summer - but the Borussia Dortmund striker appears to be ready to join the ranks of sporting mercenaries instead.
Aubameyang is reported to be on the brink of sealing a move to Chinese football and for the life of me, I cannot understand why any serious sportsman would want to go and play in that third-rate league.
Okay, we all like money and Aubameyang will be getting a lot of it very quickly if he joins Tianjin Quanjian, but he is basically selling his soul to the highest bidder by moving to China.
Aubameyang has been a prolific scorer with Borussia Dortmund over the last four years and the connections Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has at his old club may well have given him a good chance to get a deal done.
There was a suggestion that a fee of £63m would be needed to sign a striker who scored 31 Bundesliga goals last season and while that is a crazy figure, it would be the going rate in what is certain to be a crazy summer transfer window.
If the rumours are true and the price tag on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk is set at £70m, paying less for a proven striker would look like a half decent deal.
Yet it seems as if money is more important to Aubameyang than sporting ambition and for that reason, Liverpool may have had a lucky escape by not signing him.
Playing in the Champions League, challenging for the Premier League title, working with a great manager like Klopp and playing in front of incredible fans at Anfield every week should be what any footballer wants.
I would have walked over hot coals to get a chance to play for Liverpool and while I wouldn’t expect a foreign player to have that kind of passion and desire, anyone who is willing to move to China at the age of 28 is not worth talking about.
Aubameyang might be able to buy a few nice boats or fancy cars after a couple of years in the Chinese Super League, but I bet he will look back on his career one day and think he made a mistake.
If, as it seems, Aubameyang will not be an option for Liverpool this summer after all, Klopp’s search for the key signing of this transfer window will continue.
The capture of Mohamed Salah is encouraging for Liverpool fans, but a proven goal-scorer is what was lacking last season and they need to find him quickly.
Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Salah will give Klopp great attacking midfield options, but it is at the cutting end of his team that he has to find a solution.
Danny Ings, Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and new arrival Dominic Solanke are not the answer to Klopp’s striker problem and I suspect at least two of that four will not be at the club when this transfer window comes to an end.
I can see Origi and Sturridge moving on and we don’t know how Ings will fit in after so long in the treatment room, so I hope the big striker Liverpool are crying out for arrives in the next two or three weeks.
Klopp has been linked with an ambitious move for Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe in the last few days and while talk of €100m bids for the player might be music to the ears of Liverpool fans, I suspect that kid will end up at Real Madrid.
The top, top players will always go to the clubs that pay the most and the trouble for Liverpool must be that they might struggle to get the kind of quality players they need within the budget they are working with.
It is harder than ever to get transfer deals done in a Premier League landscape where every club is getting £140m of TV money and have no need to sell their best players.
This is why we are seeing such crazy price tags attached to players like Van Dijk and Mbappe, who are basically unproven at the highest level of the game.
While Liverpool may be prepared to spend big to get the kind of players they want this summer, money alone cannot buy you what you want any more in football landscape where every club has bank balances overflowing with cash.
With Aubameyang off the list of targets, I would be concerned that Liverpool will head into the new season without the lead striker they need, even though they are doing all they can behind the scenes to get that deal over the line.