Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: A player eternally looking to shine on a bigger stage
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may never reach a World Cup - but can he reach a Champions League final?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the world’s best goalscorers, yet he may never grace the biggest stage in the world and for a reason which is very close to his heart. He represents Gabon at the international level despite being born in France and representing them at youth level.
Seems a little strange, don’t you think? Why would one pick Gabon, a country ranked 92 in the world, over a country who have previously lifted won the World Cup?
Why Aubameyang chose Gabon over France
It all becomes clearer when you look into it a little further; Pierre-Emerick’s Father, Pierre, was the captain of Gabon and won 80 caps for the African country. And in an interview last year, he summed it up perfectly.
"I wanted to follow in his footsteps. My father had 80 caps for Gabon, many of them as the country's captain. It was a decision made from my heart and for my family." - Aubameyang
Now, whilst it may be a heart-warming to see that he made the decision to play for Gabon, just briefly imagine how frightening France’s front line would be with Aubameyang accompanying the likes of Antoine Griezmann. Hell, I would probably give them the trophy now, because that kind of firepower would be pretty much unstoppable.
Gabon finished third in their World Cup Qualifying group behind group winners Morocco and Ivory Coast, so it was never going to be an easy task to qualify for Russia - especially when you consider that only the team that finishes first un each group qualifies. There is no battle for play-off places as is in Europe.
It could have been over a lot sooner for Gabon as they only managed to scrape past Mozambique on penalties in the qualifying round for the group stages. That game was in November 2015. Since then they have only won once at home in 11 gmaes - a real cause for concern for Aubameyang’s side.
Will he get that bigger stage in club football?
AC Milan were Aubameyang’s first professional side, despite never kicking a ball for them as he was farmed out to France repeatedly where he played for Dijon, Lille, Monaco and Saint Etienne. It was at Saint Etienne where he really started to shine. After scoring eight goals, his loan spell was then made permanent - a decision that AC Milan will live to rue.
The season his move to France was made permanent he finished top of the goalscoring charts with 16 goals, no mean feat by all accounts. However it was the 2012/13 season where he would really begin to make waves throughout Europe.
Aubameyang finished second to a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the race for Ligue 1’s Golden Boot but people were starting to take note as he was selected for the Ligue 1 team of the season and won the division’s African Player of the Year. With that in mind, it was only a matter of time for a bigger club came calling - and that club was Borussia Dortmund.
Since he has been plying his trade in Germany he has netted 95 times and counting, including a hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut against Augsburg. But everyone knows his departure to a bigger club will happen sooner rather than later.
Dortmund are by no means a small club, but he seems to be in a similar situation to which Robert Lewandowski found himself in - where he can’t really do much more and his hit a certain ceiling with Dortmund. It is a great shame because the Bundesliga is much more exhilarating when Bayern aren’t running away with the title.
The career of a top level footballer is restricted to a limited number of years, so it does make sense that one would want to do all they can in the space of time that they have as a professional.
His next move will be very interesting and one would think it will probably happen next summer as opposed to a January move because then Dortmund would have to find a replacement. He will not kickstart a merry-go-round of strikers which is much more likely to happen in the summer.
He could walk into any team in world football and improve them. Real Madrid? Check. Barcelona? Check. Bayern Munich? Check. Manchester City? Check!
And with this move being arguably the biggest move he will ever make, he will undoubtedly be planning it already.