FC Barcelona lock down Aubameyang amid turbulent Spanish transfer window

It was a mix of good and bad news for Barcelona at the end of the winter transfer window on Monday.

The Catalan club were close to formalizing the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after agreeing a deal with the Arsenal striker just before the deadline, but they couldn’t be unhappy with striker Ousmane Dembele leaving. and will probably have to stay with the French striker. until the end of his contract in June.

It was around 12:30 a.m. in Barcelona (23:00 GMT) when president Joan Laporta left the club’s offices giving a thumbs up and raising his right fist in the air after apparently completing the deal with Aubameyang. The striker left moments later, sporting a broad smile and also giving a thumbs up sign.

The transfer window closed at midnight but Barcelona bought some extra time to formalize the deal as Aubameyang would have become a free agent before the deadline. The official announcement was expected on Tuesday.

Aubameyang arrived in the Catalan city earlier today to finalize negotiations with Barcelona after being stripped of his captaincy at Arsenal for disciplinary reasons. He would have returned late from a personal trip.

The Gabon striker went to the Africa Cup of Nations but did not play after being diagnosed with heart damage while recovering from coronavirus.

Aubameyang, 32, Arsenal’s highest-paid player, should have taken a big pay cut to join Barcelona as the club don’t have much salary cap space.

He has slowly restructured his finances after being unable to keep Lionel Messi at the end of last season. Barcelona recently signed Spain international Ferran Torres only after defender Samuel Umtiti accepted a pay cut similar to the cuts other players in the team had to take last year.

Barcelona also brought back striker Adama Traore from Wolverhampton on loan until the end of the season, and re-signed veteran Brazilian defender Dani Alves after a stint in Brazilian football.

Aubameyang’s arrival will help Barcelona make up for the loss of Sergio Aguero, who had to retire last year due to a heart condition.

Barcelona have told Dembele he needs to find a new team after his agents rejected several offers to renew his contract over the past six months. Football director Mateu Alemany said the club only wanted “players who are committed to the future of the team”.

Dembele said he would not give in to blackmail and left open the possibility of staying at Barcelona, ​​who have reportedly set a €20m (US$22.3m) fee for the 24-year-old forward. who can leave for free when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Spanish media said Paris Saint-Germain were negotiating a possible transfer for the player, and Laporta said there was talk of a negotiation with an English club. The club’s president has hinted that the deal is contingent on Dembele’s acceptance.

Barcelona broke their own record to sign Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 in a deal, including add-ons, worth €147m (then $175m). Many fans questioned the transfer as it used up a good chunk of the €220m (then $262m) Barcelona received from PSG for Neymar a few weeks before.

Dembele was injured for long stretches of his first two seasons and only established himself as a regular starter last season. He has played sparingly this season due to injuries and the coronavirus.

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Barcelona said Dembele was a ‘no-show’ in the report from his last league game before the international break ‘due to stomach ailments’. Before that, coach Xavi Hernandez didn’t include him for a Copa del Rey game.

During the previous transfer window, Barcelona were able to free up part of the salary cap by sending French striker Antoine Griezmann on loan to Atletico Madrid.

Atletico strengthen their defense

Reigning Spanish league champions Atletico have acquired Mozambican left-back Reinildo Mandava from French club Lille on a contract until 2025.

Atletico said “the very strong player…is very difficult to beat and very powerful in individual situations”. The 28-year-old defender played in Portugal before joining Lille in 2019.

Financial details of the deal were not immediately available.

Gil joins Valencia CF

Valencia have agreed to loan young Spanish international Bryan Gil from Tottenham until the end of the season. The 20-year-old striker hadn’t gotten many minutes at the English club.

Gil won a silver medal with Spain at the Tokyo Olympics last year and was a member of the Spain Under-19 squad that won the 2019 European Championship. He previously played for Sevilla , Eibar and Leganes in Spain.

Lots of movement in January

Villarreal have agreed to loan Argentinian midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham until the end of the season, while Mallorca have brought in Kosovar striker Vedat Muriqi on loan from Lazio, also until the end of the season. end of the season.

As expected, league leaders Real Madrid made no major moves on the final day of the transfer window, still focusing on signing French star Kylian Mbappe when his contract with PSG runs out in June.

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