Berlin (AFP) – The transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal will delight Premier League fans, but he left a trail of unrest in his wake at Borussia Dortmund.
Arsenal finally met Dortmund’s asking price for the Bundesliga’s top scorer last season, when Aubameyang netted 31 goals in 32 German league games.
The Gunners confirmed Aubameyang had joined for a new club record, reportedly £56 million ($79.2m, 63.7m euros).
However, despite clinical finishing and lethal pace, Aubameyang’s Dortmund legacy — 141 goals in 213 matches in all competitions — is tainted by the manner of his departure.
“I don’t know him any more,” fumed disgruntled sporting director Michael Zorc when Aubameyang, 28, made it crystal clear he wanted out earlier this month.
Dortmund’s French-born ‘Enfant Terrible’ has always been known for outlandish behaviour.
– Masks and somersaults –
Arsenal fans can expect him to don masks or somersault to celebrate goals.
However, a warning to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is that three Dortmund coaches — current boss Peter Stoeger, plus predecessors Peter Bosz and Thomas Tuchel — have had to discipline Aubameyang over the last 16 months.
It started with minor indiscretions, like shaving the logo of private sponsors Nike into his hair, although Dortmund are backed by Puma.
He was dropped by then coach-Tuchel in November 2016 for taking a private jet to Milan, just before a Champions League game, to see family.
Then he annoyed Dortmund team-mates by checking his father and brother into the team hotel during a winter training camp in Spain in early January.
Matters came to a head when he was kicked out of the squad for their first game of 2018, a goalless draw with Wolfsburg on January 14.
Having also been dropped in November by Bosz for arriving late to training, Stoeger again ejected him for missing a team meeting.
It left the club red-faced, a day after CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke had described Aubameyang as the “total professional” in a Die Welt interview.
Andre Schuerrle admitted the squad shook their collective heads at Aubameyang’s recent behaviour.
“It creates restlessness, it makes you shake your head,” said the Germany winger.
The most blatant provocation came a fortnight ago, when he was left out for the 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin after training poorly.
At the same time as the game, Aubameyang was playing 5-a-side with friends in Dortmund.
He wore a Dortmund shirt bearing the name of Ousmane Dembele — who forced Borussia to sell him to Barcelona in August by boycotting training.
Like Dembele, Aubameyang ultimately made it impossible for Dortmund to keep him.
He arrived in 2013 with a glowing reputation after hitting 37 French league goals in two and a half years with Saint-Etienne.
– Faster than Bolt? –
Having started in AC Milan’s youth academy, Aubameyang first fulfilled his potential at Saint-Etienne after spells at Dijon, Lille and Monaco.
The 2012/13 season was Aubameyang’s breakthrough year in France as he won the League Cup before joining Dortmund for 13 million euros ($16m) in July 2013.
When Robert Lewandowski left for Bayern Munich in 2014, Aubameyang stepped up.
He netted 16 league goals in 2014/15, then 25 more in his bumper season of 2015/16 when he netted 39 times in all competitions.
Aubameyang has expensive tastes, once wearing crystal-encrusted footwear to warm up for a Rhone derby against Lyon.
Masks are also his thing — especially those of superheroes.
He donned a spiderman mask after scoring for Saint-Etienne against Rennes in 2012/13.
A batman hood — with Dortmund team-mate Marco Reus pulling on a Robin mask — was then donned after netting against Schalke in the Ruhr derby.
Aubameyang is fast, once claiming to be quicker than sprint legend Usain Bolt over 30 metres.
When Bolt set the 100m world record in 2009, he clocked 3.78 seconds over the first 30 metres in Berlin.
“When I was with the Milan youth teams I ran 30 metres in 3.9sec, that was official, but I’ve run it in 3.7sec too,” Aubameyang told German daily Bild.
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