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Timo Werner exit paves way for Chelsea to pursue Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang


Chelsea target: Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters

Chelsea target: Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters

Chelsea target: Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters

Chelsea could find out this week if they have a realistic chance of signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona with Timo Werner on the brink of sealing his permanent return to RB Leipzig.

Werner’s move, together with the fact that Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech want to leave Stamford Bridge before the transfer window shuts, will heighten Chelsea’s need to sign another attacker.

Chelsea have been prioritising their interest in defender Wesley Fofana, who they remain in dialogue with Leicester City over, and midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who is yet to tell Barcelona he wants to leave. It is understood Barcelona are likely to sell only one of Aubameyang or Memphis Depay, who has also been linked to Chelsea and is a target for Juventus.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez would ideally like to keep Aubameyang, who moved to Spain from Arsenal in January, but the club may be forced to take a more pragmatic approach having also signed Robert Lewandowski.

Chelsea have been in talks with Barcelona over a number of deals this summer. Left-back Marcos Alonso has agreed a deal to join the Spanish club after Cesar Azpilicueta decided to stay at Chelsea and sign a new contract.

If De Jong decides to leave the Nou Camp, Chelsea are confident he will choose them over Manchester United. Werner’s departure will create significant space on the wage bill, as the German earned close to £270,000 (€320,000) a week at Chelsea, who will also receive a fee of around £20m (€23.7m), less than half the £47.5m the club paid for him two years ago. But Werner’s book value with three years remaining on his contract was £28.5m (€33.8m), meaning Chelsea have accepted a relatively small loss that could potentially decrease further if various add-ons are paid.

Chelsea could also offload two more forward players, with Hudson-Odoi hoping to leave on loan before the window shuts and Ziyech still keen on a move away. Borussia Dortmund and Southampton have shown an interest in Hudson-Odoi, while AC Milan have held talks over taking Ziyech on loan.

Another player who is leaving Chelsea is defender Malang Sarr, who started his medical to join Monaco on an initial loan yesterday. The Ligue 1 club have agreed to pay around £600,000 (€711,000) to take Sarr, with an obligation to buy him later.

Azpilicueta admitted he was more comfortable on the right side of a back three than at right wing-back when explaining his decision to sign a new two-year contract at Chelsea, rather than holding out for a move to Barca.

“I am really happy,” said the 32-year-old. “It felt right to carry on my journey here in a new project. After the Club World Cup where I became the only player to ever win every trophy, [I felt] it was the time to go back [to Spain]. But then everything happened with this club. I wanted to stay committed to the club.” 

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