In a semi-shocking turn of events yesterday, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was not only the player cut from our Champions League squad for the rest of this season, but was then one of the players not named to the matchday squad against Fulham.
And then it got even more shocking from there, as apparently he wasn’t even at the game at all — contrary to standard operating procedures and expectations that call for first-team players not named to the matchday-20 to still be at home games, usually sat behind the bench. The injured Christian Pulisic was one such player who could be seen there yesterday, alongside the newly uninjured Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Gabriel Slonina, for example.
So where was Auba? Apparently he’s jetted off to Milan for some r-and-r. And we’re okay with that because the inmates run this asylum now.
“We wanted to give David [Fofana] some game time today to see where he’s at and to give him that opportunity. I think you saw that one flash that he’s got. Pierre is just unfortunate and he will be fighting for his place for the rest of the season.”
“He’s got the weekend off so we can report on Monday. It’s a free world.”
Graham Potter did not add “innit?” to the end of that line, unlike the dudes outside Doug The Head’s jewelry shop that one time.
Allowing for the possibility that Auba had some personal business to take care of that just couldn’t wait and Potter simply covered for him, it’s yet another odd situation that seems inexplicable from an outside vantage point. Marcos Alonso once made headlines by going to the team bus early; Aubameyang wasn’t even in the same country!
Combined with the notion floated by the Telegraph’s Matt Law earlier in the day that Chelsea are “trying to force him out”, it’s got all the makings of a very tricky situation indeed.
Aubameyang excluded from Chelsea’s Champions League squad for the knockout stages - feeling is the club are trying to force him out. Incredible situation #cfchttps://t.co/DCMLED7ZL9— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) February 3, 2023
After the game, Potter claimed that Aubameyang took the Champions League squad news very professionally and trained normally with the team. So we’ll see if the 33-year-old striker can show the same level of commitment as Hakim Ziyech did barely 72 hours after he was sat in the PSG front offices watching the clock tick towards midnight only for Chelsea to miss the deadline with the paperwork for his loan move.
“Pierre is a professional and of course, I understand he will be disappointed. It was a tough decision, a tough call. We had three coming in and two had to go out. He was the one that missed out, he’s done nothing wrong at all.
“[He] has handled it very well, trained today fantastically which is what I would expect. He’s been a top guy for us.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
Unfortunately, Aubameyang’s signing has been anything but a top move for us this season, but at least there’s been no drama off the pitch either. So far...
Slightly late to this as have been travelling, but the decision to omit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a big one.— Adam Newson (@AdamNewson) February 3, 2023
Of all the transfers completed under Boehly/Clearlake, his remains the most baffling given they’d already decided to part ways with Thomas Tuchel. #CFC