Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will cost Real Madrid at least €70 million if they decide to replace Karim Benzema this summer, Goal understands.
And while the 27-year-old has gone public with his desire to depart, that does not necessarily mean that a transfer in the coming window is a foregone conclusion.
"If I want to move forward, I should go this summer," Aubameyang told RMC last month, and the impact of his words was felt at Dortmund. Michael Zorc, their sporting director, even had to clarify that the club had asked their star to stop talking and focus on their Champions League campaign.
Goal understands, however, that the situation has now settled somewhat at Dortmund a week after all hell broke loose. Club sources insist that Aubameyang was misquoted, and the player himself has refrained from repeating his desire to leave. This gives Dortmund the upper hand when it comes to deciding his future.
"We are not under any pressure to sell Aubameyang," director Hans-Joaquim Watzke told Kicker. "He has a long contract [until 2020]. If an offer comes, we will talk. But he will not go cheap."
Indeed, the figures disclosed are daunting: the price tag on the forward, while not completely prohibitive, rules out all but Europe's biggest financial hitters. Recent enquiries from Liverpool and Manchester City, for example, have fallen on deaf ears.
But what of Madrid? The European champions, whom Aubameyang has said on multiple occasions it would be his dream to join, are constantly on the horizon when his future is discussed. And with 85 goals in the last three seasons, it is no wonder that he is seen as the top-class forward to add to Zinedine Zidane's ranks.
While sources at the club have never indicated more than a general interest in the Gabon international, Benzema's poor season may cause them to seriously consider a bid. He has scored 23 goals fewer than Aubameyang during the current campaign, and his position has never before been under such threat.
The Frenchman's deal is up in 2019, one year prior to Aubameyang's in Dortmund, and there is no sign of talks over a possible renewal.
If Benzema is let go, convincing Dortmund to let Aubameyang replace him will be a major undertaking for Florentino Perez and his staff at the Santiago Bernabeu.