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The Gabon international's shirt had been hung up in the BVB dressing room prior to the game, only to then be cut from the team just minutes before facing the Portuguese side

Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was cut from the German team's squad in mysterious circumstances just minutes before Wednesday's Champions League clash against Sporting. 

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The Gabon international had been expected to start for the club against Signal Iduna Park, with his match shirt hung up in the dressing room. 

His name, however, was conspicuously absent from the Dortmund team sheet, with Ousmane Dembele starting as the club's sole striker. 

When quizzed on the omission, the club told ZDF that it owed to "internal reasons".

BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke later told Sky that manager Thomas Tuchel made the decision, but had an interesting response to those questioning whether the call had anything to do with transfer speculation surrounding Aubameyang.

"That's because of internal reasons,” said Watzke. The coach has decided that way.

"You can ask three times. You guys live off speculations so go ahead and speculate."

Aubameyang has been the target of fevered transfer speculation in the recent weeks, with Napoli and Real Madrid among those linked to the prolific forward.