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Barcelona interested in Aubameyang, Lacazette; Coutinho a swap option

The club with massive financial problems are interested in Arsenal players on big wages. Or maybe they aren’t.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal: The MIND Series Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Barcelona are pursuing a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang transfer and could offer Philippe Coutinho to Arsenal as part of a swap deal, according to Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports. Other reports have the Spanish side interested in Alexandre Lacazette as well. According to Fabrizio Romano (citing Matteo Moretto of Calciomercato who also lists Sky Sport in his bio), Barcelona are not negotiating for Aubameyang.

So Barcelona are either interested or not interested in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Philippe Coutinho and Alexandre Lacazette might or might not be part of the conversation. Isn’t the silly season fun?

Last I checked, Barcelona are £1.15B in debt. Lionel Messi left the club on a free transfer because they could not register him under La Liga’s financial rules. Depending on who you believe, Barca are also waiting to register several other players, including Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero. They reportedly need to halve their wage bill. Yet suddenly I’m supposed to believe that they’re going to bring in a £350K-per-week player, even if Coutinho’s slightly larger weekly wages go the other way?

That degree of tinkering around the edges doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint. Barcelona need big salary cuts and money savings, not a nickle here, a dime there. And the Sky Italy report that they were in for Tammy Abraham? Yeah, right.

It doesn’t really make sense from an on-field perspective, either. A deal for Martin Ødegaard to come to Arsenal is reportedly in the works, which would create a logjam in the central creative role if they swapped for Coutinho as well. And Barcelona already has a striker (they just can’t register him) — Sergio Aguero.

In an Aubameyang-for-Coutinho swap, the Gunners might come out ahead in terms of overall quality because the Brazilian had a good season for Bayern Munich last year, albeit in a limited role. Aubameyang had a down year for Arsenal. That said, while Arsenal need midfield creativity, they also need goals. Coutinho hasn’t scored double digit league goals since 2016-17. Aubameyang has scored double digits every year since becoming a first-team regular at Saint-Etienne in 2011-12. Until last season, he had scored 22+ league goals for five straight seasons. For what it’s worth, Coutinho is three years younger than Aubameyang.

My guess is that people are once again using the Kia Joorabchian angle to connect non-existent (or extremely faint) transfer rumor dots. Remember: Coutinho is a Kia client, and by now, we should all be familiar with the Arsenal-to-Kia-client-pipeline. And even though Raul Sanllehi was the primary conduit, Edu has ties to Joorabchian as well. Add to that the picture of Edu, Raul, and their wives out to dinner in Monaco a few weeks ago, and you’ve got enough for some people to run with.

Nothing that I’ve seen, including Aubameyang and Lacazette’s mysterious illness-related absence from Friday’s match, has suggested to me that they might want a move away or that Arsenal are looking to sell, at least not Aubameyang. They’d sell Lacazette in a heartbeat for a decent off, I think. But there’s almost certainly nothing doing with a cash-strapped, in serious financial trouble Barcelona.