Chelsea are reportedly considering an offer for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but would he be an adequate replacement for Diego Costa?
Costa appears to be finished as a Chelsea player. If he wasn’t before the weekend, then the video he posted on Instagram with him wearing an Atletico Madrid shirt will almost certainly sealed his fate.
The Spain striker has been a temperamental presence around Stamford Bridge, with controversy and aggro never far away. But few Chelsea fans would argue that he wasn’t worth the grief.
Now Antonio Conte has to replace the centre-forward. Romelu Lukaku was apparently his first choice before Manchester United acted more decisively, leaving Alvaro Morata, Andrea Belotti and Aubameyang as potential signings.
There is even said to be interest in Sergio Aguero, but Manchester City surely won’t allow him to leave this summer, certainly not to a title rival.
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Aubameyang, however, could well leave Dortmund this summer. He was on the verge of joining Paris Saint-Germain earlier this summer and has also been the subject of interest from China, but he remains available and is likely to be the most affordable option of Chelsea’s targets.
Would Aubameyang and Chelsea be a marriage of convenience, or could the Gabon striker fill Costa’s boots and take the Blues to the next level?
Costa scored 20 goals in the Premier League last season, just as he did during his other title-winning season in his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge after arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2014.
The striker’s form dipped during the year that sandwiched the Blues’ title triumphs, but so did almost every single one of his team-mates’.
Purely on goals, Aubameyang’s record is more impressive. He netted 32 times in the Bundesliga last term to finish as the third-highest scorer in Europe’s five biggest leagues, claiming Germany’s Golden Boot by beating Robert Lewandowski by one goal having played one game fewer.
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Aubameyang’s record has improved during each of the four seasons he has spent at Dortmund. Since moving from Saint-Etienne in 2013, he has netted 85 times in the league in 128 appearances, chipping in with a goal every 116.8 minutes.
Last term, he scored a goal every 86.9 minutes, with his tally making up 43 per cent of all Dortmund’s goals.
Costa did not have to carry a goalscoring burden as great as Aubameyang, with the Chelsea centre-forward contributing 24 per cent of Chelsea’s 84 Premier League goals.
Costa’s 20 goals came from 111 shots during a season in which he played 308 minutes more than Aubameyang, who scored his 32 goals from 116 attempted shots in 2782 minutes.
Aubameyang, meanwhile, hit the target with 56 per cent of his shots compared to Costa’s shot accuracy of 53 per cent.
Both strikers showed creditable consistency throughout last season, with Aubameyang and Costa both enduring only three spells during which they failed to score in consecutive matches, though a five-match, month-long barren spell for Costa from mid-March to mid-April was a bigger drought than anything Aubameyang suffered.
Aubameyang was Dortmund’s fox in the box, with all 32 of his goals coming from inside the penalty area, and 37.5 per cent of them being scored from inside the six-yard box.
Costa netted 27 per cent of his 20 goals from such close range, while two of his strikes came from beyond the area.
Passing and assists
While Aubameyang scored more goals, Costa can claim to have created more for his team-mates. The Chelsea striker contributed seven assists – five more than Aubameyang gave Dortmund.
As a traditional target man, Costa was also more heavily involved in Chelsea’s approach play, playing 29.5 passes per game, considerably more than Aubmeyang’s 16.2 passes. This was despite Dortmund enjoying an average of 58.6 per cent possession per game – the fourth largest amount in Europe’s biggest leagues – while Chelsea had an average of 54 per cent.
Costa’s passing was also more accurate, finding a team-mate with 75.2 per cent of his passes, while 69.7 per cent of Aubameyang’s passes reached their target.
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Both strikers were inaccurate with half of their attempted long passes, though Costa attempted twice as many (28). Of his 992 short passes, 24 per cent were inaccurate, while Aubameyang gave away 30 per cent of his 505 short passes.
In attempting 133 dribbles, Costa was successful with 58.6 per cent of them. Aubameyang’s success rate was slightly better (61.5 per cent) though he attempted 71 fewer dribbles in total.
Costa’s greater involvement, though, led to more unsuccessful touches (107 compared to Aubameyang’s 41), while the Spaniard was dispossed over four times as often (3.4 times per game compared to 0.8).
As Dortmund and Chelsea’s main source of goals, neither Costa nor Aubameyang is relied upon heavily to contribute defensively, presumably other than what is traditionally expected of a centre-forward in sides defending from the front.
Both strikers made an average of 0.5 tackles per game, while Aubameyang’s 0.3 interceptions per match was only marginally more than Costa.
The number of clearances offers the only real contrast in the pair’s stats, with Costa making 39 throughout last season, compared to Aubameyang’s four. Perhaps this was because Costa was more involved in Chelsea’s defending of set-pieces, while Dortmund were happy to leave Aubameyang further forward.
Around the pitch, however, Aubameyang won a greater percentage of his aerial battles, dominating 36.6 per cent of his 112 aerial duels, while Costa competed in more (153) but won only 28.75 per cent.
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