Brilliant interview on the clubs official site about why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang chose to play for Gabon.
He was born in France to a Gabonese father and Spanish mother, meaning he had his pick of international teams. He was also previously invited to play for Italy U19s, and actually played for France at U21 level.
At the age of 19, Aubameyang was selected for the Gabon national team, and has gone on to win 56 caps, scoring 23 goals.
“I was very young when I decided [to play for Gabon],” Aubameyang told Arsenal Player. “Players often take their time to consider their options and make the right choice.
“For me, the choice was clear. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. He was captain of the national side in the past.
“I could well have chosen to play for Spain or France. I played for the French under-21 team, but I realised very quickly that in my heart I wanted to emulate my father.
“I do think that I’m a footballer now because [my father] played the game. I remember I loved it when I first went to see him play at the stadium. The fact he was capped so many times for Gabon, of course it made me want to represent the country’s colours.
“There are some similarities in the way we play. My dad was an attacker at the start of his career – he was very fast. Then, when he went to Laval, he changed position, moving further back.
“My father was very strong physically – I’d say I’m less so. I don’t think I’ve been capped as many times for Gabon. So for now he’s still the best, in my eyes at least.”
In the current era where you get players like Diego Costa playing for Spain, it is refreshing to see someone play for the country that he has at heart, rather than the one that could lead to greatest success or international exposure.
Hey Big Spenders
Liverpool have gone at it hard, hard as a mother f***er.
They had already agreed a deal to sign Naby Keita from RB Leipzeg after they triggered his £48m release clause last summer. Due to the German outfits qualification for the Europa League, the deal is actually going to cost them £62 million in total.
Also joining the club is Monaco utility man Fabinho. A £39m deal for the Brazilian was completed almost as quickly as interest in him was announced on Monday.
There is also talk of a £62m deal for Nabil Fekir being close.
That will take their summer spending to £163m and we are not even in June yet!
It has led to a lot of Arsenal fans asking how are they spending so big?” and “why are Arsenal not competing for those players?” Let’s break it down.
Firstly, Liverpool have not spent big this summer. Keita was agreed last summer and Fekir has not yet bit done. Fabinho is the only player they have signed.
Saying that, I imagine the Keita deal will drop into this years accounts, and if the Fekir deal is completed, that will be a huge chunk of cash spent. But it is money that they needed to spend.
Fabinho coming in replaces Emre Can who is set to leave on a free transfer. Fekir will be a replacement for Phillipe Coutinho who left in January. It means that Keita is the only real addition from where they were at the beginning of last season.
And Keita, whilst perhaps most exciting of the 3 midfielders, is perhaps the one they needed least. He is very similar in style to Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who they spent a combined £60m on.
Add in Jordan Henderson, Liverpool would have midfield options that have cost around £250m. And none of them are as good as Aaron Ramsey – highlighting how important it is that Arsenal secure the Welshman to a new contract.
So how have the afforded it?
It must be remembered in recent years they have only had 2 years in the Champions League. The money from this is not the main motivator for the big spending. Pretty much all of their new signings – from Virgil van Dijk, to Fabinho and Fekir – have been financed by the sale of Phillipe Coutinho.
Liverpool got £146m when they sold the Brazilian to Barcelona in January.
van Dijk, Fabinho and Fekir will cost ~£176m between them, which is pretty much all the Coutinho money plus a little bit more.
Liverpool spent over £150m last year. This years dealings will take them beyond £300m in 3 transfer windows. It will be interesting to see if the press stop pretending that they are not big spenders.
It has recently been announced to some controversy that Arsenal have a greed a £10m-a-year 3-year deal with The Rwanda Development Board to become Arsenal’s first ever sleeve sponsor.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide, which saw 800,000 Tutsi murdered, is still very much in people’s mind. With over a third of the country in poverty, the deal has led to questions as to whether the £30m can be used better elsewhere, and unfounded rumours that it has been paid for through financial aid.
There is also controversy surrounding President Paul Kagame being an Arsenal fan.
One of the key reasons behind the sponsorship deal was to raise awareness of Rwanda, to make people think of it as a tourist destination, rather than for the horrendous acts that happened 24 years ago.
In Rwanda, tourism is the number one export.
It is currently the second fastest growing economy in Africa with a booming tourism sector that has seen the number of visitors double in the last decade. The country’s national parks are attracting record number of tourists due to growing numbers of wildlife including black rhino, lions, zebra, chimpanzees and the famous mountain gorillas.
Rwanda is also attracting new hotels and lodges across the country, making it easier to experience longer, unique and memorable vacations.
They are currently attempting to double their revenue from tourism to $800m over the next 6 years, and the link up with Arsenal will be seen as an important partnership, with one expert estimating that the £30m investment could help to bring in £300m of new revenue.
It is a case of speculate to accumulate. If the initial outlay does drive additional tourism revenue to Rwanda, that will benefit the entire nation and her citizens.
An interesting little comparison (for me anyway) to make is Germany.
We have the Holocaust. The Genocide of millions of Jews. The World War ended in 1945. In 1954, just 9 years later, Germany were World Cup winners.
Also look at South Africa. Apartheid ended in the early 90s, with the first democratic election held in 1994. In 1995, they won the Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Football, and sport in general, can play a huge part for a countries rehabilitation.
Whether it be through promoting themselves as revolutionised, like it did with South Africa, or driving tourism to the country like Rwanda are doing, the benefits fair out way the cost.
If you have criticised the deal, let me ask you a question:
Since the deal was announced, have you Google Rwanda? Have you looked into it as a holiday destination?
If you have, even if you have just read about the country on Wikiepdia, it shows that it was £30m well spent.