Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been one of the hottest strikers in the Bundesliga over the last few seasons, but who is the man behind the goals?
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Aubameyang, and had a bid in excess of £50m turned down by Borussia Dortmund this week.
With a January move seemingly on the cards, we look at some lesser-known facts about the 28-year-old, including why he loves superheroes, how he once nearly joined Newcastle, and his sprinting challenges…
Anyone who has been on Aubameyang’s Instagram page will know about one of his loves away from the football pitch: fashion.
He has his own clothing brand – PEA17 – and teamed up with New Era last summer to design a yellow and black cap with his name and number on – “the perfect way to celebrate your favourite player” according to New Era.
He also likes flashy boots, once wearing a £2,500 pair encrusted with more than 4,000 crystals to warm up for a game, and regularly donning colourful pairs throughout his career.
“When I feel something, I want to do something, I do it – I just do it,” he once said in an interview with CNN. “So I’m like this also in my life, if I want to wear some crazy clothes, I put it on.”
Gabon’s one and only
Aubameyang has represented Gabon at three Africa Cup of Nations and also the 2012 Olympics, when he scored his nation’s first and only Olympic goal.
He was called up to the squad as a 23-year-old, having scored 16 goals for Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 that season. Gabon’s preparation for their first Olympic football event including playing non-league side Heaton Stannington FC, with Aubameyang scoring twice in the game and then going off at half-time.
And Aubameyang also netted Gabon’s first and only goal at the Olympics as he scored against Switzerland in a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park. They followed that result with a 2-0 defeat to Mexico and a goalless draw with South Korea.
Born in France to a mum with Spanish origins and a father from Gabon, Aubameyang got call-ups from Italy and France at youth level. He played for France Under-21s, but at senior level he only had eyes for Gabon.
“It was a decision of the family and of the heart,” he explained. “It would be the greatest thing I could achieve to bring people in Gabon a little joy. My dream is to play at the World Cup with Gabon.”
Will Aubameyang be a superhero at Arsenal?
He certainly has previous of ‘superhero’ celebrations, donning Spiderman and Batman masks after scoring goals.
At Saint-Etienne, he wore a Spiderman mask in tribute to former goalkeeper Jeremie Janot, who was a big fan of the character and once played a match in a customised Spiderman kit. He also wore the mask on another occasion as a nod to his son’s third birthday, and has joined team-mate Marco Reus in celebrating a goal in Batman and Robin masks.
Asked about the celebrations, he told UEFA: “I’ve always liked comics. It’s a reminder that even though it’s our job, football remains a show for people to enjoy.”
So nearly for Newcastle
How different things might have been for Aubameyang if he had joined Newcastle from Saint-Etienne in 2013 rather than Borussia Dortmund.
After being named in the Ligue 1 team of the season, Aubameyang was courting interest from all around Europe, including the Premier League.
The Magpies reportedly made a bid for the striker, who said he was keen on the Premier League and described Newcastle as a “good club” and St James’ Park” as a “monumental stadium”.
However, he would eventually join Dortmund over Newcastle, and explained the decision by saying: “Saint-Etienne wanted to sell me to Newcastle but we opted for Dortmund, finalist in the Champions League, because my father studied Jurgen Klopp’s game, even though the money was lower.”
Need for speed
Speed is one of Aubameyang’s best traits, but did you know that he has apparently been clocked as running at faster than Usain Bolt?
In a pre-season training camp with Dortmund he was reportedly clocked at 3.7 seconds over 30 metres. That is eight-hundredths of a second faster than Bolt over the same distance when broke the 100m record in 2009.
German sprinter Julian Reus called Aubameyang out over his speed shortly after his apparent 30m time was revealed, saying: “It is a blatant myth that Aubameyang is faster than Usain Bolt.”
He also added that he wanted to “restore athletics’ honour” by challenging him to a race. Aubameyang accepted and said: “It’s nice for me and after this run I know if I can change job or not.”
The race has not yet taken place, and Aubameyang has not changed jobs, but he has spoken of his desire to race Bolt. “I want to run with him one day because I want to see how fast I am — maybe I’m really bad!”