Barça signs Aubameyang, but fails to get rid of Dembélé
The Gabonese arrives on a free transfer from Arsenal, while the Frenchman has not accepted any last-minute destination
BarcelonaFrantic day in Barça's offices. Yesterday at midnight marked the deadline to register new players in competitions and Barça negotiators acted against the clock to fight for their goals until the last moment. For many hours of the day, the only certainty has been the timely registration of Adama Traoré in La Liga. The winger from L'Hospitalet trained in the afternoon under Xavi Hernández's orders and will be able to play on Sunday against Atletico Madrid. As well as Adama, Mateu Alemany worked hard to confirm the arrival of another striker. Once Álvaro Morata had been ruled out, which was Xavi's priority, the efforts were directed a few days ago towards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a proven striker who was not having a good run under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal's coach.
The Gabonese striker was the man of the day in Barcelona. At mid-morning, he landed at the airport of El Prat in a private flight to try to close his signing for Barça, the club where he wants to relaunch his career. He has travelled without Arsenal's knowledge and has waited patiently in a hotel while his emissaries negotiated the release from the English club and the new contract with Barça. Aubameyang, who passed his medical in the afternoon, finally arrives at Camp Nou on a free transfer rather than on loan. He will sign until June 30, 2023 and will have a salary that will initially be symbolic in relation to the one he had in London, where he earnt about €19m gross per year. Next year, when Barça will have more fair play he will be able to perceive a salary closer to his worth. The only way to bring the striker into the current salary scale was to extend his contract and space out the agreed bonuses. This has been the solution devised by Alemany to untie the fourth and last Barça winter signing from the outcome of the Dembélé saga, which has had an unhappy ending for Barça's interests.
The French striker will continue at the club and will exhaust his current contract that ends on June 30. "He will stay at 100%," sources in the dressing room told ARA. He neither renewed his contract nor left the club (these were the options Barça gave him) and he will remain under Xavi's orders, who will now have to decide whether to make him play or not in the final stretch of the campaign. The Catalan coach has stood by the club in recent weeks and not called up Dembélé for two most recent games in Bilbao and Vitoria, but at the time he said that sending him to the stands was not advisable. "It's a shame because everyone loses out, us and him, who is at the expense of what his agent says," the club laments, where they admit that the French winger has rejected all the last-minute proposals that have reached him. Neither PSG, Chelsea, Manchester United nor Tottenham will now save Barça from having to pay the full contract for a player who is fairly likely to spend the remainder of the year in the stands. His agent Moussa Sissoko is dreaming of a million-dollar fee this summer. The auction is open.
Iñaki Peña leaves on loan to Galatasaray
On the other hand, it has been possible to close Iñaki Peña's loan, who will play until the end of the season at Galatasaray. The operation, which had been planned at the end of last week, was finalised on Monday. Galatasaray will take on the goalkeeper's contract, but will not have any purchase options to sign him (other than, that is, the termination clause). Barça had sounded the market to find a way out for goalkeeper Neto, who does not fit in Xavi's plans, but it has not been possible. On the other hand, it has been able to close Peña's loan, who will seek minutes in the Turkish league with the aim of becoming a full member of the first team next season. This means, if Neto leaves in the summer, Iñaki Peña would be paired with Ter Stegen.
In terms of signings, Barça added four in a very prolific winter market. Alves was the first to arrive, followed by Ferran Torres and, finally, Adama and Aubameyang. Such is the number of new players that Xavi will have that, for the Europa League, he will have to leave one out of the list, as UEFA only allows a maximum of three new faces in the middle of the competition. On the other hand, in this registration period, the situation of Nico Gonzalez has also been regularised, who will now count as a first team player. In terms of departures, Barça have lost Demir, who has returned to Rapid Vienna, Collado, on loan to Granada, Coutinho, on loan to Aston Villa, and Kun Agüero, who has had to withdraw due to heart problems. In the end, Luuk de Jong will keep his locker at the Camp Nou, as will Neto and Umtiti, who are out of the coaches' plans.