Paul Merson says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could turn Manchester United into a “major force” if he made the move from Arsenal to Old Trafford.
With reports in The Sun suggesting United are eyeing a £50m move for Aubameyang, Merson gives his opinion on the Arsenal captain’s potential move to Old Trafford, what his exit might mean for the Gunners, and whether any other club should be making a move for the 30-year-old, who has just over one year to run on his contract at the Emirates Stadium…
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‘Auba is what United are missing’
Aubameyang is what Manchester United are missing. He is a goal scorer and goal scorers are priceless.
If you look at United and the way they played against Manchester City a couple of weeks ago, I thought they were very, very good. You looked at them and thought they have got a chance, especially if they could also get hold of a couple more players, especially a creative midfielder.
You couldn’t help but be impressed with their performance and if they were to sign Aubameyang and they also got someone like a Jack Grealish, are they big players? They would be a major force, in my opinion.
They are crying out for someone who is going to score them 20 to 25 goals, and that’s what Aubameyang can bring. He gets you 25 goals without even breaking sweat. Add a Grealish if they can get him and then you’ve got Bruno Fernandes as well playing in behind a striker, Manchester United will be a major force.
Is it the right time to leave Arsenal?
I don’t think you can say Aubameyang would be going for ambition if he went to Manchester United though. He’d be going for the money because he’s almost 31 and this would likely to be his last move.
At the moment, you can’t say you are going to go to Manchester United and get guaranteed trophies. You won’t be able to guarantee United winning anything in the next two or three seasons. They are getting better but it’s not ambitions, it’s the money.
If it was Manchester City or Liverpool, that would be different. You’d be thinking of course, he’s ambitious and he wants to win things. I’m not saying United won’t win things, but you can’t assure me of it. I can assure you Man City or Liverpool will in the next few years.
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What about other clubs? Auba to Liverpool…
Everyone knows about Aubameyang’s contract situation but there aren’t too many clubs in England looking to fill that position. I’m sure Manchester City will probably put all their eggs into Gabriel Jesus when Sergio Aguero eventually goes, so I don’t think they will have much interest.
I think if you were Liverpool you would have a look and Jurgen Klopp knows him very well from their time together at Borussia Dortmund, but it does worry me that Klopp hasn’t gone in for him. He would surely know him better than anyone.
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I always look at Arsenal’s move for Shkodran Mustafi for around £35m. If Mustafi was that good, a £35m player, Gary Neville, who was at Valencia with him, would have been on the phone to Manchester United saying: “You won’t believe the centre half here. He’s so good you’ve got to buy him.” But he didn’t do that, and Arsenal had a free run.
That’s the only thing that worries me regarding Aubameyang and Klopp, because Liverpool do need a forward. Let’s be honest, they haven’t got a natural striker. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino work really well together as a three, but you do need someone who can bang in 25 goals without a fuss.
Firmino is a top player but he can go long periods of time without scoring. You still need someone who is a safety net in terms of goals and that’s what Aubameyang can provide.
Liverpool also need to continue to improve. Winning trophies is hard, but coming back and winning them again is even harder. There’s a company out there that sells more burgers, more chips and more fast food than anyone in the world, but they still do adverts. That tells me you have to keep working to stay on top.
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When you win something, you’ve got to go and improve again. Some teams go and keep the faith in the squad that won and go from there, but you have to keep improving if you want to stay on top. The burger company don’t do adverts to sell stuff, they do it to stay on top.
Liverpool will have to do the same and that may mean freshening up the squad.
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‘Auba exit would be major disaster for Arsenal’
It would be a major disaster for Arsenal if they lost Aubameyang, however, the decision will be weighed up and at least it will be the club’s decision as to what they do.
Do they give him £300,000-a-week? I’ve always said they will have a problem until Mesut Ozil leaves the club. Every day he’s there, every other top player will want what he’s on. It’s a huge problem and not a new one.
If they want to keep Aubameyang they will have to pay him big money, but Arsenal may look at it and think if we give him £300,000-a-week for the next two or three years, is he going to be the same player? He’s nearly 31 and by the time he’s 34 he’s not going to be the same player. I don’t care who you are, at 34 you are not the same player.
Arsenal may also weigh it up asking if they will win the Premier League or get into the top four in the next few years if they pay Aubameyang £300,000-a-week. They haven’t actually done it yet with him there, so they may look at it and say it is good business to let him go.
There’s also the danger of giving him big money, just like they did with Ozil, and then every other player wanting the same. It would take you straight back to the Ozil scenario and if you do spend all that money on him and you don’t get into the top four it’s not money well spent.
It’s a really hard decision and it will all come down to how the club weigh it up.
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Is it Van Persie all over again for Arsenal?
The Arsenal fans won’t want to see another top striker depart for Old Trafford, that’s for sure, but the Robin van Persie situation was a bit different.
At that time, it was Arsenal vs Manchester United, they were both the big teams in England and for Arsenal, it was like selling United the trophy.
This is a bit different because you’ve got to look at where Arsenal are at the moment. They are ninth and if Aubameyang leaves, are they going to finish lower than ninth next season? No way.
For me, there’s a lot of weighing up that needs to be done. I know the natural reaction is to think Arsenal won’t be able to replace him and his goals and they must do all they can to keep him, even if it is giving him £300,000-a-week, but you can’t just look at next season. You’ve got to look at the all-round picture.
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