London (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a club-record fee of around £56 million on Wednesday, with Olivier Giroud moving to Chelsea as part of a complicated transfer jigsaw.
But as the clock ticked down to the closure of the transfer window in England at 2300 GMT, Manchester City were reported to have pulled out of a move to sign Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.
Aubameyang, 28, signed a contract with the Gunners until 2021, becoming Arsenal’s second big-name signing of the January transfer window after Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined from Manchester United.
The signing, which translates as $79 million, or 64 million euros, will boost Arsene Wenger’s forward options after the departure of Alexis Sanchez to United in a swap deal with Mkhitaryan but raises questions about Alexandre Lacazette’s future in the starting line-up.
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has joined us from Borussia Dortmund on a long-term contract for a club-record fee,” Arsenal said in a statement on their website, describing him as one of the world’s most highly rated strikers.
Aubameyang compared himself to club legend Thierry Henry, telling Arsenal Player he was attracted by the club’s “big history”.
The Gabon international will be reunited at the Emirates Stadium with former Dortmund team-mate Mkhitaryan — a tweet on Arsenal’s Twitter account pictured the two players together with the message “Friends reunited”.
Aubameyang posted a message on Instagram apologising for the circumstances surrounding his departure from Germany but describing himself as “crazy”.
“Perhaps it was not the best way for me to have decided, but everyone knows that Auba is crazy,” Aubameyang said.
“And yes, I am crazy lad, hahahaha. I have made mistakes, but I never had any bad intentions. I will never forget it these four and a half years at Borussia Dortmund.”
– Giroud move –
Chelsea later announced the arrival of Arsenal striker Giroud on an 18-month contract for around £18 million and Michy Batshuayi’s departure for Borussia Dortmund in a loan deal until the end of the season.
Giroud, 31, who has struggled to hold down a regular starting spot since joining Arsenal in 2012, said he was delighted to be joining their London rivals.
Batshuayi, 24, arrives in Dortmund as a direct replacement for Aubameyang, to complete the three-way puzzle.
Pep Guardiola’s City were reported to have pulled out of a bid for Mahrez, who won the Premier League with Leicester in 2015-16, after making a final cash-plus-player offer worth up to £65 million, according to Sky Sports.
City have lost influential Germany winger Leroy Sane for at least six weeks with an ankle injury and with the club competing on four fronts Guardiola suggested he may need reinforcements.
“Right now, it’s the same as (Alexis) Sanchez, it’s not the place to talk about it. It’s so difficult,” Guardiola said on Tuesday when asked about Mahrez.
“If things are not possible, then nothing is going to happen. We don’t have too much and we play every three days. We have to find solutions.”
City paid a club-record record fee of £57 million for young French centre-back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, whose deal was confirmed on Tuesday.
Tottenham are expected to confirm the signing of Lucas Moura from Paris Saint-Germain for a reported £25 million.
The Brazilian winger, who has struggled for playing time after the arrival at PSG of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, arrived at Spurs’ training base on Tuesday morning ahead of a medical.
Swansea, whose win against Arsenal on Tuesday saw them move out of the Premier League’s bottom three, reportedly want to bring Ghanaian forward Andre Ayew back to Wales from West Ham.
The Swans are hoping to sign the 28-year-old for around £18-20 million, according to the Evening Standard.
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