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Gabon star set for Premier League switch

Just who is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?

Born in Laval, France, the 23-year old turned down opportunities to play for Italian and French international youth set-ups before making his full international representation for Gabon in 2009. Having started his career with the AC Milan youth team, Aubameyang spent his early football life playing for teams such as Lille and Monaco on loan before permanently settling down with Saint Etienne.

The African Neymar

Nicknamed the African Neymar partly for the players’ similar hairstyles and partly for similarity in finding the net often, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s highly productive season with the French Ligue 1 outfit has made quite a flutter across the Great Channel. Newcastle United, having failed in their bid to sign the striker in January, have made it a priority to add another France-based player in the summer to add to their growing French foreign legion. Alan Pardew has his scouts firmly on hand to watch and keep track of the 6ft 1 inch striker as the Ligue 1 draws to its business end.

Having made his intentions clear to leave France in the summer, Premier League teams have lined up in numbers to match Saint Etienne’s asking price of 15 million pounds for the Gabon international. Infact, Newcastle were ready to pay 10 million pounds in January but the French club’s asking price proved a stumble. But Aubameyang’s performance over the season has certainly shot up the price and the Magpies are front runners to match the transfer fee, come the summer transfer window. But 17 goals in the 2012-2013 season have caught the eyes of Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas Boas, with the former employing his experienced scout Gilles Grimandi to watch the player score his 16th league goal of the season in a 2-2 draw against Rennes on Friday. With Olivier Giroud having an up and down first season in the Barclays Premier League and Gervinho looking like a spent force, is Arsene Wenger’s interest in the 23-year old Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang premature? The Gunners need a proper replacement for Robin van Persie and Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud are certainly not in the same bracket as the Dutch marksman, so what the former France U-21 international will bring to the success starved club is still to be debated, even though the interest in the player from all quarters suggests that he is one for the future.

International career

Played an important role in the 2012 African Cup of Nations when Gabon co-hosted the competition. Pierre-Emerick scored three goals in the tournament and was instrumental in taking his side to the quarter final stage before losing to Mali on penalty kicks. Has scored 8 goals in 29 international appearances.

2012-2013 Ligue 1 season

16 league goals and 1 French Cup goal for Les Verts make him a formidable force up front. Aubameyang’s wonderful season has brought back smiles to the faces of the Saint Etienne fans who have suffered long enough and it looks like the Gabon striker could help the ten-time French league winners return among Europe’s elite. His free flowing football coupled with energetic goals and Neymar-like skills have made Saint Etienne the club to follow after Montpellier’s exploits last season. Having graduated from the Milan youth set up, the young footballer has it in him to play at the very highest level if he keeps his feet firmly on the ground.

Clubs interested

Newcastle United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Verdict 

Newcastle are favourites to sign the player in the summer but if Saint Etienne qualify for next season’s Champions League, Pierre-Emerick might just be tempted to stay at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard. 15 million pounds is a pretty high asking fee with 10 million pounds the right value for a player who is definitely talented but certainly not better than Olivier Giroud, who single handedly landed the 2011-2012 Ligue 1 title for Montpellier.

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