Tag Archives: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Liverpool & Rwanda Partnership

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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.

Rwanda

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.

Keenos

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Arsenal’s New Signings: Hit, miss or Jury’s Out?

Sead Kolasinac

Named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season last season, the left back looked at bargain when he arrived on a free transfer, Kolasinac scored on his debut against Chelsea in the 2017 FA Community Shield. He made his Premier League debut on the opening day, providing an assist in a 4–3 win over Leicester City.

With Arsenal playing 3 at the back, he made the left wing back position his own, with Nacho Monreal flourishing on the left hand side of back 3. In the early months, he gave the team the aggression it had missed for some time, living up to his “tank” nickname.

He was named Arsenal Player of the Month in both August and October, with Nacho Monreal winning the prize in September.

Towards the end of 2017, both a formation change and injury saw him fall out of the side, firstly with Aisnley-Maitland Niles playing on the left, then Nacho Monreal returning to left back when we returned to a back 4.

Questions were raised over his defensive awareness as the reasoning behind him finding himself on the bench, but it was as much to do with Nacho Monreal’s great form – the 32 year old Spaniard showing that there is life in the old dog yet.

Kolasinac returned to the first team in the later part of the season, as Wenger begun to rest players in the league for the Europa League.

Going forward he has shown his class with 5 goals and 4 assists. To bring this into perspective, this is as many goals as Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has scored for Liverpool.

Just 24, he has shown enough this season to be Monreal’s long term replacement at left back. He is certainly not as bad defensively as some critics perhaps say.

Alexandre Lacazette

Scoring after 94 seconds on his debut against Leicester City, the Frenchman’s season certainly began with a bang. He went on to score in both Arsenal’s next two home games, becoming the first Arsenal player to score in his first three home league appearances for the club since Brian Marwood in September 1988.

By the time December hit, it was 8 goals from his first 16 games. A fabulous start. And then it went down hill.

1 goal in his next 13 games had fans starting to question the record signing. What followed was 8 weeks on the sidelines following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham.

He returned in April against Stoke City, scoring the third goal of the game following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s decision to allow his fellow striker to take a penalty.

With that his confidence returned and he scored 8 goals in 9 games.

The clubs top scorer this season, it does feel one of 3 thirds. Brilliant in the first 3rd. Poor in the second 3rd. Brilliant in the final third. But if 17 goals is considered a poor return in his first season, it only bodes well for the future.

Konstantinos Mavropanos

The 20 year old Greek defender was signed in January with a view to spend the second half of the season on loan in Germany. A decision to put him on the bench in the League Cup game against Chelsea meant this was not longer possible.

This left Mavropanos playing in the U23s for the majority of the season.

He made his Premier League debut in a 2–1 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Despite the defeat, his performance was praised by fans and pundits.

Mavropanos made his home debut in the club’s next home match – the 5-0 victory over Burnley.

His red card against Leicester City shows how quickly football can change.

It is important not to go OTT with Mavropanos; and we must remember that he has only played a handful of senior games in England, but physically, he looks brilliant.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Part of the deal that took Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, he made his first start for Arsenal in a 5–1 home win over Everton, claiming three assists. That match was probably the highlight of his Arsenal career thus far.

A knee injury in April caused him to miss almost the entire month. That break seemed to have broken his rhythm and affected him settling at the club, leaving him with just 7 Premier League starts.

3 goals and 5 assists in his first 14 games is a decent return, but Jose Mourinho’s question marks over his fragility hang over his head.

If he stays fit, he will be a good foil for Mesut Ozil.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Whilst Mkhitaryan was the man who replaced Sanchez on the pitch, Aubameyang has replaced the Chilean as the figure head of the team.

He has continued his performances that he put in for Borussia Dortmund, scoring on his debut against Everton.

Aubameyang’s appearances were restricted due to be cup tied in the Europa League. You do have to wonder if he was not cup tied – due to UEFA’s odd rules – we probably would have gone on to beat Atletico Madrid in the semi-final. Him and Lacazette would have been too much to handle for 10 man Madrid.

It is not just the 8 goals in 12 games that has been impressive, but the way he lifted the entire club.

Alexis Sanchez was moody and selfish. Aubameyang plays with a smile on his face, and reminds me of Thierry Henry in that he is as delighted to see a team mate score as scoring himself.

Giving the ball to Lacazette against Stoke City showed he was a team player. Understanding a fellow striker struggling, his act led to Lacazette re-finding his form. You can not imagine Sanchez doing similar.

With new World Cup Aubameyang (and Mkhitaryan) will get a proper rest and full pre-season. He could be devastating next year.

Keenos

Arsenal striker “best in the league”

As expected, many people commented on this mornings blog without actually reading it.

The jist was simple. Arsenal need to keep fringe pair Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck. And this was justified by pointing out that they were squad players, and more importantly home grown.

The majority of replies were “they should be the first two out of the club”. It highlights people not reading the blog, or understanding football.

Lets take Danny Welbeck. He is 3rd choice striker. Next season how much game time is he going to get? He will need both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be out of the team to get a start up top.

If everyone is fit, we will play 1 up top, so Danny Welbeck will be on the bench. Whoever is not playing between Lacazette and Aubameyang will be bought on before him if we need a goal. Welbeck will be a long way from the first team.

3rd choice striker got me thinking.

Is Danny Welbeck the best “3rd choice striker” in the Premier League? In all honesty, without looking on Wikipedia, I could not name the 3rd choice striker of most times. So off I go, to do some research (in the hope of producing a pretty little spreadsheet). The findings were interesting.

The only other striker other than Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to play for Manchester City this season was Lukas Nmecha, a 19 year old Englishman who has made 2 substitute appearances after the league title was one. 14 minutes in total.

Chelsea are in a similar position. They have just two senior strikers. Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud. They have had Diego Costa and Michy Batshuayi on their books as well this season. Costa has left and Batshuayi on loan.

The reality is, Chelsea do not have a 3rd choice striker currently at the club. Will Batshuayi return? Who knows? Next year it will probably be Tammy Abraham. The youngster on loan to Swansea has 5 goals in the Premier League this season.

Manchester United are in a more favourable position.

After Romelu Lukaku, they have Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. If I wanted to be biased, I would claim that Sanchez is a wideman, and that Martial is 3rd choice striker, but in truth Sanchez would be moved upfront if Lukaku was injured.

This leaves Rashford as 3rd choice striker.

Rashford is similar to Danny Welbeck. Infact is he just a young Danny Welbeck? An adequate striker who is often used on the wing and scores 1 in 4.

There is talk of Rashford leaving Manchester United and joining Arsenal. If this resulted in Welbeck leaving, it would be like when a rich middle aged man leaves his wife for a younger model.

Rashford is just 20, so he will still improve (where as Welbeck will not). Certainly one for the future, but Welbeck will start ahead of the youngster for England.

Liverpool are an odd one. Mohamed Salah is the leagues top scorer, but is no more a striker for us than when Alexis Sanchez was when he was playing out wide for Arsenal last season. Salah has played just 3 times down the middle this season.

Despite also not being a natural striker, Roberto Firmino is their out disputed number one. Whenever he has not played, Liverpool have put Dominic Solanke through the middle. He has made 4 Premier League starts this season. That leaves Danny Ings as 3rd choice striker.

Neither Ings or Solanke will go to the World Cup. Welbeck will.

When Harry Kane picked up his injury for Spurs, they pushed Son Heung-Min further forward. This clearly puts Fernando Llorente as 3rd choice, even though he was originally bought as back up to the English cry-baby.

At 33 he is clearly a striker on the wain. He scored 15 league goals last season for Swansea, but found the net just once for Spurs in the Premier League this – although he has played just 226.

The fact that Mauricio Pochettino does not seem to trust him to be 2nd choice striker behind Kane is telling.

Danny Welbeck might not be everyone’s cup of tea, yet he has 10 goals in all competitions this season. He has started just 5 games this season upfront. I would be surprised if too many are in the Premier League.

Arsenal do need a better wide option than Danny Welbeck. 16 starts on the wing is too many. He can not be our first choice winger next season. But up front, as 3rd choice striker, there are not too many better in the Premier League.

Keenos