With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s move to Arsenal finally drawing to a conclusion, there are some fans who seem confused about all the toing and froing that has gone on in the last two weeks.

If I had £1 for every time I saw Gooners blame their club for ‘Arsenaling’ up their deal with Dortmund for Aubameyang over the last week, I would be helping to pay the 28-year-old’s £180k-per-week wages.

When Arsenal made a lower bid than Dortmund were asking for, people made fun of Arsene Wenger for being tight. And when the Bundesliga club included the Gabon international in their squad to face Freiburg on Saturday, Gooners once again wrote off the deal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Dortmund’s Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

At the time, we pointed out how these were standard negotiation techniques, all designed to make it look as if Dortmund didn’t want to sell their striker and Arsenal weren’t that bothered about buying him. Sure enough, these continued over the weekend.

Dortmund were always said to want £60m for Aubameyang, and although the Gunners low-balled them with just £44m in their first bid, the Germans had already seemingly weakened their position by making it known they were open to selling.

Dortmund were always going to say no to £44m but Arsenal had to start somewhere. Our second bid was £50m. It seems as if Arsenal are only having to cough up £53m – £7m less than Dortmund wanted and only £9m more than our first offer, which people laughed at.

Just before this, however, Dortmund had a few more rolls of the dice left. They were always going to sell the striker, they just wanted to get the best deal for their club which is completely normal.

And they had plenty of time in which to do so.


Dortmund coach Peter Stöger therefore included Aubameyang in his starting XI against Freiburg. This was presumably to show Arsenal that the 28-year-old wasn’t theirs yet – he was still a Dortmund player and would continue to be if the Gunners didn’t pay up soon.

When this didn’t seem to work, it was reported that Dortmund officials didn’t believe Arsenal could even afford Aubameyang, which was rather amusing.

Arsenal wouldn’t send a delegation of Ivan Gazidis, Sven Mislintat and Huss Fahmy over to Germany so publicly if they didn’t have every intention of returning with the player. Again, Dortmund knew this but were almost daring us to flex our financial muscle.

After Aubameyang made it clear he wanted to leave, Arsenal had the advantage. Finally, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc released a snippy statement, saying the Gunners hadn’t ‘met demands’ yet. In other words, ‘Arsenal aren’t paying us the £60m we want – blame THEM if the deal doesn’t go ahead’.

A day later, a deal for less has been agreed. As super-agent Jon Smith explains in his book The Deal: Inside the World of a Super-Agent, two clubs negotiating is like a game of chess.

It looks like Arsenal have won.