Time For Africa's Best to Move On

German Bundesliga By: Okanga Okanga | 18/12/2016

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is simply the first truly world class African centre-forward since Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o Fils. However, if he is to have any chance of nearing the god-like status of those two, Dortmund does not seem like the place.

Don't get it wrong, Borussia Dortmund are a fantastic football club. And when it comes to making players better it is hard to point to many that can do a better job. However, many have come to see them over the years as a stepping stone: a club capable of breeding players, capable of pulling off the upset every now and then, but never really capable of getting or staying over the success line.

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Aubameyang, the reigning African Player of the Year joined BVB in 2013 and has gone on to score a century of goals for the club, with his 100th coming on Friday against Hoffenheim. He joined the club as a backup to Robert Lewandowski - who would move on to Bayern Munich in 2014 - often deploying his blistering pace in support of the Poland international from the wings. When Lewandowski moved on to Dortmund's big detractors, Auba became the focus of attack. He has not looked back since and has emerged as one of the most dreaded strikers in Europe.

Auba's scoring quest has, no doubt, been aided by Dortmund's attacking style. The problem is that Dortmund cannot meet his ambitions when it comes to trophies. Die Borussen are simply unable to compete with Bayern for silverware in Germany and have not come anything close to their 2013 Champions League final appearance where they lost to - guess who - Bayern Munich.

Worse still, In 2014/2015 they suffered relegation form before a late surge saw them rise to a  pathetic and apologetic seventh place on the table.

They lose key players year in year out, including Ilkay Gundogan and former captain Matts Hummels who left last summer. The current team is full of vibrant and exciting youngsters but not many top professionals who can sustain a trophy push in the short run.

This season, they have progressed well under Thomas Tuchel, finishing top of a Champions League group ahead of Real Madrid. However, despite beating Bayern 1-0 in November - Auba again scoring the winner - recent poor league form has seen them drop to 5th on the table, 10 points below league leaders RB Leipzig with Bayern who are 3 points lower in second yet to play this weekend. Their chances of challenging for Die Bundesliga grow slimmer by the week.

These may not be music to the ears of the Gabonese, who is already 27 and has been at Dortmund for three full seasons without a trophy. Safe to say the French-born striker has outgrown his current surroundings.

Auba is the only African striker who is capable of standing shoulder to shoulder with any top marksman in the game and the heir to the throne of Kings Drogba and Eto'o. To achieve greatness, he needs, not just goals, but trophies.

Drogba, in 2004 moved from UEFA Cup finalists Marseille to Chelsea at the age of 26 and went on to win four Premier League titles and led the club to a solitary Champions League title in 2012.

Samuel Eto'o, at Real Mallorca till 2004, cemented his name in Barcelona folklore with virtuoso contributions in two Champions League wins and three Primera Liga titles between 2004 and 2009 before moving on to Inter Milan to win the treble in 2010.

Aubameyang, it seems would have to make the move to one of the very top European club sides to have a chance at such feats.


There have been rumours of a Real Madrid interest in Aubameyang but nothing concrete, it seems, is in the offing. Moving to the Spanish giants would be an enticing one, but there is the presence of Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata to consider. There is also the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo has evolved into a centre-forward.

Morata is still seen as a deputy, Benzema is Injury-prone and Ronaldo is not getting younger though.

There is the MSN at Barcelona. He surely cannot join Lewandowski at Bayern. PSG have a reborn Cavani and Lique 1 is more like a hiding place, although there could be Champions League highlights. Atletico cannot guarantee titles; neither can they afford him. Juventus have Higuain and Dybala, and Auba may not be so interested in going back to the Serie A where he spent his younger days with AC Milan. Chelsea, who should be back in the European mix next season, have Diego Costa while Manchester City have Sergio Aguero.

It seems the clubs that Aubameyang could walk into would not be an improvement on Dortmund. Manchester United look like they need a speedy, younger upgrade on Zlatan Ibrahimovic but would have to address their shortfalls first. Arsenal, like Atletico, do need a centre-forward like Aubameyang, but would struggle to convince anyone of their trophy-winning credentials.

It seems, Auba would have to be as bold as Samuel Eto'o was when he moved to Barcelona if he is to get a shot at one of the top spotlight clubs or he may just have to have faith that Dortmund would conquer their demons and meet his demands for success.

He has a contract with the club till 2020 but, the Lewandowski to Bayern situation aside, BVB have shown a willingness to negotiate the sale of their top players in the past. It seems, it is mostly a question of whether the right buyer comes along and the Gabonese is ready to move. What appears settled is that, for Auba to move into the realm of the gods, he too must leave Dortmund for greener pastures.