As the deadline day window was about to shut, Chelsea were becoming more and more desperate. Having failed to secure a move for Anthony Gordon, and manager Thomas Tuchel rejecting new owner Todd Boehly’s ambitious proposal for Cristiano Ronaldo, the German settled on a familiar face — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The former Arsenal captain, who left the Emirates in January for Barcelona, reunited with his former Borussia Dortmund boss in a £13 million move that looked set to turn Chelsea’s fortunes around. The Blues had been a figure of inconsistency, but after shelling out a quarter of a billion pounds throughout the summer, Tuchel looked like he had a side that could compete. Or so he thought. Within one Champions League loss, admittedly one that shocked many to Dinamo Zagreb, Tuchel had been sacked.
It was a ruthless move from Boehly, with things obviously going on behind the scenes, and the American moved swiftly to appoint Brighton manager Graham Potter as his replacement, something that took Aubameyang by surprise.
“It’s always sad when someone leaves the club,” he said. “Obviously, I just saw him for a few days.
“When you play football you have to adapt very quickly to some moments in the season, this can happen. It’s been a crazy week for all of us, that’s part of the life, we have to adapt, I think it’s a bit of sadness at the moment, hopefully we’ll get back to better days soon.
“Obviously, I think it’s a bit strange for everybody, not only for me, but as I said, this is football, you have to adapt, when you play for Chelsea you need results as soon as possible, that’s why I’m a bit frustrated today.”
Aubameyang has an impressive scoring record on English shores and while Chelsea’s stock amongst Premier League winner betting odds has taken a dent with some lacklustre performances, he could be the jewel in Potter’s crown. Employed in a more central role than at Barcelona, the 33-year-old is part of a new look strike force, leading the line with Kai Havertz as Potter set up in a 3-5-2 for his first game — a 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg.
It’s meant Chelsea are winless thus far in Europe, and with their domestic form on the decline, Potter will be looking forward to the trip to Crystal Palace on October 1st when he gets his first taste of Premier League football in charge of his new side. The English coach worked wonders for Brighton, and earnt the respect of Aubameyang, who sang his praises when asked about his new coach’s credentials.
“I think he’s a person who’s really positive, he’s a great character so we will try to learn with him, to win as soon as possible,” he said. “I think his idea is very clear, so I think it’s going to be easy. Obviously it takes time to adapt to each other.”
Expectations are clearly high at Stamford Bridge this season, and rightly so given the money that has been invested in the club. There are persistent issues that have needed addressing for a while now but they can easily be glossed over by a good return of goals, which Aubameyang can provide. It’s very much a short-term solution to a long-term problem, but with 68 goals to his name in England’s top flight, you wonder if he can put himself within touching distance of the Premier League 100-club before the twilight of his career.