Barcelona’s sporting director Eric Abidal has confirmed that the Camp Nou outfit will look to sign a number 9 in the summer and revealed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a player that they are keeping tabs on.
The Catalans had been expected to recruit a striker in January after Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele picked up injuries but despite having their eye on the Arsenal captain, Olivier Giroud and Fernando Llorente they failed to get a deal over the line.
In a wide-ranging interview in Sport, Abidal touched on his club’s future transfer plans.
“It is logical that in summer a ‘9’ will come. It is a necessity. We know that [Luis] Suarez will come back strong, but you have to bring a top player in the summer,” he said.
“We do not know if it will be young or experienced. We only look at the talent and adaptation they may have. We must think that some top players have come and have not adapted well.
“I know him (Aubameyang). He has a profile that has depth. He is important, and in his team he is decisive.
“It is good to bring this profile of player who can be in the market and can help you. We’ll see what will happen.
“There is a list with players like [Olivier] Giroud, [Fernando] Llorente or Aubameyang, but for one thing or another we decided not to sign [someone in January]. We believe it is best for the club.”
Abidal has since earned the wrath of Lionel Messi. In the same interview, the former France international seemed to suggest that some of the club’s first team players weren’t trying hard enough under Ernesto Valverde and that as a consequence they had to sack the coach.
Messi took to Instagram to tell his former teammate to focus on his own decisions. Quique Setien has since been appointed Barcelona coach after approaches for Xavi and Ronald Koeman came to nothing.
Sid Lowe, writing in the Guardian, has since suggested Barcelona, who are second to Real Madrid in La Liga, are in ‘meltdown’ as a result of Messi’s outburst. The Argentine has a clause in his contract that allows him to unilaterally walk away for free at the end of this campaign.
If we were guessing, Abidal’s days are numbered.
It remains to be seen what Arsenal do with Aubameyang. The striker will head into the final year of his contract at the Emirates in the summer and with negotiations over a new deal stalling, there’s a fairly high chance we could flog him.