Former AC Milan sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli has admitted that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was his ‘only target’ last year, but the deal never went through.
Arsenal signed Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January, but before that Mirabelli was trying to bring the Gabonese striker back to Milan. Aubameyang first joined the Italian club all the way back in 2007, but after a series of loans he left for Saint-Etienne four years later.
Mirabelli was keen to rekindle the relationship between player and club but the Milan manager at the time, Vincenzo Montella, wanted Kalinic instead.
“Why did not I get Aubameyang? The first choice of Montella was Kalinic,” Mirabelli recalled. “The relationship with Aubameyang has been known for years, we have seen each other several times and he was my only target for the attack even though Dortmund was demanding so much.
“While I was working to take him to Milan, I also had to listen to the requests of the manager who considered Kalinic as the first choice. It was a difficult negotiation for the Gabonese and other talks took place that then led to the team we built without leaving anything to pay because we spent everything we had.”
Montella’s decision didn’t really pay dividends, with Kalinic scoring just six goals in 41 games in the 2017/18 season. Aubameyang scored 31 and assisted seven between his appearances for Dortmund and Arsenal that year, despite his mid-season falling out with his former club and consequent dip in form.
Nonetheless, we can all be grateful to the former Milan boss and for the spending spree that ran the club out of money, because 20 goals later I think Arsenal fans are all pretty happy to have Aubameyang around.