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Aubameyang bursts onto Manchester United’s radar at Borussia Dortmund
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s greatest asset on the football pitch is his blistering pace and acceleration. It is rumored that he is faster than a certain Usain Bolt in thirty meters and is by far one of the most dangerous strikers on the planet. This pace, however, insinuates suspicion, suggesting he is a one-dimensional player at first glance.
Yet Aubameyang has demolished any doubts with an explosive year that has seen him burst onto the scene and into the record books at Borussia Dortmund.
When Aubameyang was a kid, he and his brothers, Catilina and Willy, would watch their father Pierre play for the Gabon national team and for Nice, among many teams in his twenty-year career, in the French Ligue 1. “Auba,” had ambitious aspirations as a kid. He would interview himself as a professional player and pretend to be in his father’s shoes on the pitch.
“My childhood dream was to play for Real Madrid,” Aubameyang said in a recent interview with L’Equipe.
“I promised my grandfather, who was from Avila some 110 kilometres away from Madrid, that I would play there. I realise that it will not be easy, but is always in the back of my mind.”
Many years, later he’s closer than ever to his dream move with rumors that he may join Manchester United in the Premier League. Catilina and Willy Aubameyang both play professionally, but Pierre-Emerick is by far the most successful of his family after moving to the AC Milan academy as a youngster. At a time when Milan was one of the best rising teams in Europe, Aubameyang was sent out on loan to Dijon, Lille, and Monaco in France, before settling in at Saint Étienne on loan in 2011/2012. He scored eight goals in thirty-three appearances that season, primarily from the wing, earning him a permeant move to the Ligue 1 club in the summer of 2012.
Aubameyang somersaults in celebration of every goal he scores, in homage to Mexican legend Hugo Sanchez, whom the France-born Gabon international idolized as a child.
The 2012/2013 season is widely viewed as his breakout season. He burst onto the scene with twenty-nine goals in fifty-four games in all competitions and swiftly grabbed the attention of many suitors, including Dortmund, who signed him for an estimated €13 million. His ostentatious personality and fashion style was a sticking point at the traditionally working-class club, but thirteen goals in his first season in Germany expelled any lingering doubts.
He scored sixteen goals in Dortmund’s dreadful 2014/2015 season, with his persistent work-rate and exhaustive speed melding perfectly into Jürgen Klopp’s gegenpressing style. Although many expected him to struggle under Thomas Tuchel’s slower, possession-based style of play at Dortmund this season, Aubameyang’s production level has only sped up.
The twenty-six-year-old used his extravagant, and sometimes brash personality to his advantage, driving himself on by creating higher and higher ambitions. At the beginning of the season, he bet Tuchel that he could tally twenty league goals in 2015/2016. He reached twenty goals in all competitions by October and currently has scored twenty-one in twenty-one games, from a more central role.
Back in the fall, he made a bet with his brother that he would score a hat-trick against FC Augsburg after tallying three goals in the Europa League earlier that week. Suffice to say, he bagged a hat-trick in Dortmund’s 5-1 win.
His movement is exceptional, he is also adept in the air and a threat from set-pieces. he was voted the African Player of the Year in 2015 ahead of Yaya Toure and far from being a pair a fleet-footed shoes and a bag of tricks. Aubameyang is a complete package. He may yet go on to play for Manchester United or even Real Madrid.
Photo credit: Tim.Reckmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons