Contrary to very few people’s expectations, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not break the Curse of the No.9 at Chelsea, nor did he solve our goal-scoring woes. His arrival at the end of last summer was looked upon with skepticism from the start, and that he did not work out for us was not at all surprising — though perhaps the way it happened (or not, as it were), was perhaps not the way we might have expected it.
The biggest red flags among the many red flags were Auba’s supposed attitude issues and disruptiveness, but the former Arsenal talisman-turned-problem-child was nothing less than a model professional throughout for us, even when he wasn’t playing, even when he was unceremoniously dropped from our Champions League squad (despite leading the team in goals in the group stage), even when the coach who brought him here was sacked less than a week later.
You might say that Auba was well compensated for all that, but money only goes so far — especially when you have serious real-life issues to deal with as well, such as being the victim of assault and armed robbery on the eve of your Chelsea transfer, or having a parent in hospital for an extended period (who is now doing better).
“It’s been a rather difficult year, first in personal life. When you have a parent who spent a year in hospital ... and it didn’t go well at Chelsea. I believe in staying positive. He’s healthy, that’s the most important thing.”
“[Why I struggled at Chelsea] is simple. [...] I arrived thanks to Thomas Tuchel who was sacked a week later. So obviously, the context isn’t the same. It was not easy. I think that played a small part. After that, I think there were other problems that weren’t my fault, that were another level. After that, I didn’t play much: simple as that.”
A lot of mistakes were made by Chelsea last year. Hopefully we’ve learned from them.
Auba’s now at Olympique Marseille after agreeing to terminate his Chelsea contract. An amicable end to what could’ve easily been yet another drawn out, dramatic, costly situation.
At 34, Aubameyang may not have long left in his playing career, but hopefully he can find a bit of joy back in France, and delight his team’s fans with a few more backflip-celebrations.