Manchester City is the latest entrant in the summer sweepstakes to sign Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to mainstream media.
The 28-year-old Bundesliga top scorer had previously made known his desire to leave the club.
A deal with Paris Saint-Germain having fallen through earlier this summer, Aubameyang’s name has been rumored to be on several shopping lists for the coming summer transfer window. (Yes, it still hasn’t officially opened yet.)
Among other clubs who are interested are City rivals Manchester United, and Liverpool. For Aubameyang, a transfer to Liverpool would mean a reunion with manager Jurgen Klopp, who he worked with during the German’s time with BVB. Aubameyang has credited Klopp with much of his development as a professional player.
But for fans of BVB the looming question is not where their star striker is headed, but, as always seems the case, who will take his place.
While the Gabonese Aubameyang is by no means a homegrown talent, the club he leaves behind has lately become synonymous with the introduction of young talent both into the German top-flight as well as into the world of football in general. Christian Pulisic and Ousmane Dembele come readily to mind as members of the black and yellows’ current roster who fit that mould.
As if those weren’t enough, just two weeks ago, BVB signed Maximilian Philipp as an additional striker, which might help lessen the impact of the impending loss of Aubameyang. Philipp’s 18 goals helped SC Freiburg finish 7th in the league table this past year.
Still, Aubameyang’s impending departure does come amid what has already been a tumultuous offseason for BVB. Just a little earlier this month it was announced that Peter Bosz would be the man to replace departed manager Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel had only been in charge of the club for two seasons.
Despite having enjoyed a fair amount of success particularly at Signal Iduna Park, Tuchel and Dortmund parted ways after the club’s match against Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Cup Final. Bosz, fresh from leading Ajax to runners-up against Premier League giants United in this year’s Europa League, will be the inheritor all of the young “projects” that Dortmund have signed in these past two years.
That perhaps adds onto the great pressure he’s already under to succeed at Dortmund.
A large part of that pressure this term will come from the indefinite absence of skipper Marco Reus. Reus underwent surgery earlier this month to repair ligaments in his knee which were injured during the DFB Cup Final victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in May. It cannot be said with certainty how much of the coming season he will miss, but he has already ruled himself out of action until 2018.
Encouragingly, because of his reputation, Bosz ought to be a good fit with BVB. He is generally acknowledged as a good mentor to younger players.
He is also said to be willing to follow the lead of his successful peers. In that respect, Bosz is reported to have one-upped Barçelona’s “three-second rule”, by instituting his own “no player should have the ball for more than two seconds” rule.
As impressive as Dortmund’s offensive punch has been with Aubameyang, the club still finished in third place last season, nearly 20 points off the pace to league champs, Bayern.
That seems like a gap that will take a good deal more than two seconds to close.