While many fans will be licking their lips at watching the likes of Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane lead the line for their respective teams this season, there is one Gabonese striker whose goal-poaching qualities shouldn’t be underestimated going into the new Premier League campaign.
Arsenal’s pursuit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took up most of the January transfer window, with head of recruitment Sven Mislintat taking the Gunners' delegation to Dortmund, where he led negotiations with the club he had departed only two months previously.
The £55.5m ($71m) deal saw Arsenal break a club record which had only been set a few months earlier when Alexandre Lacazette joined from Lyon - and it’s a transfer which could be seen as the most important as new boss Unai Emery looks to improve on last season’s sixth-placed finish achieved under his predecessor Arsene Wenger.
Aubameyang became the first Arsenal player to score five goals in his first six Premier League matches for the Gunners, putting his name in history above the likes of Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told the Daily Star: “Aubameyang is going to be a player that I think could really tear up the Premier League this season so we’ll have to wait and see how that happens."
The former Dortmund duo of Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan represent exciting attacking options for Arsenal. Both players possess vast experience in elite European leagues and have the ability to utilise their individual talent in ways to exploit opposition defences. Aubameyang’s pace, and tendency to get in behind defenders, makes him a unique proposition while Mkhitaryan’s clever running and astute passing radar ensure that chances will always be created in the final third.
Aubameyang’s impressive pre-season form suggests that he will be Arsenal’s shining light in attack going into the new season. His partnership with Lacazette blossomed in the final few games of the last campaign and what was once a rivalry during their time in France now presents the opportunity to fire Arsenal up the league table.
“He is a different player, he loves the space and I’m a player who loves to get the ball to my feet,” said Lacazette. “Auba is a nice guy. I think we can be good together.”
Those comments were echoed by Aubameyang, who has no qualms over playing alongside what many would believe is a direct competitor for his position in the Arsenal team.”We have different styles, but I think they're styles that complement each other - he's a very good player and a very kind person," he said. "We were once rivals in our days in France, but we're now friends and I hope we can play well together and score lots of goals.”
Friendships between team-mates can be a key facet when it comes to improving team morale and Goal understands that Emery’s high-intensity training sessions have been welcomed by the Arsenal squad this summer.
Aubameyang's 10 goals in 14 games in all competitions, despite only joining in January, should remind everyone that he hasn’t even got started yet.
The only question that remains is where he will be deployed in the Arsenal frontline. Whether it’s on the left with Lacazette through the middle, or both players starting alongside each other as central striking options, there can be no doubt that, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette and Aubameyang in the team, Arsenal are spoilt for choice in attack.
Salah won the Golden Boot last season while Kane won it two years before him, but Aubameyang will feel that, if he continues how he left off from last campaign, then he has a genuine chance to become the Premier League’s main man.