Chelsea have signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona in a player-plus-cash deal involving Marcus Alonso, with the Spaniard going the other way. The £12 million signing was announced at the fag end of deadline day after the two clubs went through a spate of negotiations before finally arriving at a deal that was acceptable to all parties.

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Chelsea had been desperate to add a striker to the ranks after letting their club-record signing Romelu Lukaku return to Inter Milan last month, and also allowing German striker Timo Werner to return to RB Leipzig. Both strikers had endured torrid spells with the blues before being sent back where they came from, but their absence left a gaping hole in the middle of Chelsea’s attack which manager Thomas Tuchel had been desperate to fill. 

This is why even after spending above £250 million this summer before Aubameyang’s capture- the highest an English team has ever spent on transfers over a single summer, to acquire the services of Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, and Wesley Fofana, among others, there was a belief at Stamford Bridge that more money needed to be splashed. This was underscored by Chelsea’s indifferent start to the season in which they had already registered two losses, scoring only 6 goals in the process.

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Aubameyang presented an enticing option for the club considering the potent relationship he had enjoyed with manager Thomas Tuchel during their time at Borussia Dortmund. His time under Tuchel was unarguably the most prolific spell of his career which had made him one of the most feared forwards in world football. There was thus hope that Tuchel could help the 31-year-old recapture his form in the blue of Chelsea and ease their concerns upfront.

The fact that Barcelona was keen to get him off their books to free space and funds up for their other new signings meant that a cut-price deal was very much possible.

Barca on their part did want to recoup their transfer outlay on the Gabonese, and so were holding out for a £25 million fee for much of the last week or so of the transfer window. The Catalans were also resistant to the idea of a play-plus-cash deal. However, as their financial constraints eased out, they became more open to Chelsea’s designs.

Another complication arose when Aubameyang became the victim of a violent robbery over the weekend. He suffered a minor fracture of his jaw in the attack on his home and there was a fear that this might put the transfer in jeopardy, with even a loan option being briefly discussed. 

As it transpired, Barca’s stance was softened and Chelsea was able to get the £12 million deal over the line. And by offering Spanish defender, Marcos Alonso as a sweetener to tempt Barcelona into the deadline day deal, Chelsea played a masterstroke. This is because Alonso was on the last year of his contract at Chelsea and Chelsea were bound to lose him for free next summer anyway. The Londoners were thus able to kill two birds with one stone- getting a player running down his contract off their books and solving their problems further upfront at the same time, in a smart piece of business.

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Apart from Augameyang, Chelsea was also on the lookout for a new midfielder and reports suggest that the South London club had tabled a £43 million bid for Ajax midfielder Edson Alvarez. However, this deal was always going to be a lot harder for big-spending Chelsea to get over the line before the deadline and that is how it proved to be.