Arsenal marksman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang admitted that prior to signing an extension contract with the Premier League club, he received offers tempting enough to decide an exit from the Emirates. The Gabon striker said several clubs reached out to him and pointed to Barcelona as among the top suitors for his signature.
However, Aubameyang decided to extend his stay with the North London club for another three years, which will make him the second best-paid player in the Gunners roster. The new deal will give the 31-year-old a weekly pay of £250,000 but he insisted it's not the money that convinced him to keep wearing the Arsenal shirt.
The goalscorer said he is staying because of the love shown to him by Arsenal fans and the organization, making him feel that "I am one of their own."
Most importantly, Aubameyang said he decided to continue playing for the Gunners and much of the credit goes to Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.
"My priority was to stay for two reasons - the first is the coach, Mikel Arteta, because we spoke a fair amount during the lockdown ... We were at home and spoke several times and he convinced me, notably in terms of the project," Goal reported the Arsenal star as saying.
Aubameyang opting to continue working with Arteta proved to be a suspenseful episode for Arsenal fans. The star had held off for months before he finally inked the contract sent by the club, which fueled speculations in the past months that he was on the way out.
Metro reported that the recent departure of Luis Suarez from Barcelona confirmed the approach made by Camp Nou on Aubameyang. The Catalans new coach, Ronald Koeman, had declared Suarez a surplus to requirements upon taking over in late August.
Koeman is looking for a more mobile striker on the center position and has identified Aubameyang as the ideal candidate. The Barca boss wants a new No. 9 at Camp Nou but he made clear he is no rush fill the position.
Barcelona targeting Aubameyang is not surprising. Since moving from Borussia Dortmund in 2018, the striker emerged as one of the most productive in the Premier League. He has appeared in 112 games so far for the Gunners and scored 72 goals.
Meanwhile, Arteta is continuing on his push to further beef up the Gunners midfield with the signing of Lyon man Houssem Aouar. Arsenal made an offer of £32 million for the player but the French side rejected the proposal, insisting that Aouar is worth no less than £55 million.
Aubameyang said he is hoping that Aouar can be convinced to bring his talent to England, describing the Arsenal target as "a very good player."