Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has backed new striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to bring ‘speed, work rate and goals’ to his new employers.
The Gabon international, who is not yet available for selection while he nurses a jaw injury, joined from Barcelona on Deadline Day at the behest of Tuchel, who has fond memories from their time together at Borussia Dortmund.
Unsurprisingly, Tuchel’s first press conference after the signing was largely dominated by questions about Aubameyang, and here’s what the boss had to say.
Can Aubameyang be as good for Chelsea as he was for Arsenal?
“Hopefully he can be that good again. We know very well what we get with Auba and he was very keen to come back to the Premier League. Very happy we could make it happen.
“Everywhere he plays he delivers goals but more importantly he delivers speed and work rate against the ball so it’s a big package he can bring to our group. That’s why we did it.”
How is his jaw?
“At the moment he cannot train. We have to make sure he gets a mask to protect his jaw. Then we can start to try with a mask next week.”
You had disciplinary problems with Aubameyang at Dortmund, do you have to manage him carefully
“It was the only incident [once in Dortmund]. It was not about timekeeping but the rule we set between the matches. He forgot about that rule and visited his hairdresser. I guess that was it!
“Nothing big, never a big issue. He has a big problem with his time but also he never misses a meeting or something like this. But the 60 minutes to arrive in training before is a struggle sometimes it’s 58 or 59 minutes. Never a concern.
“He has a top heart, he is a top character. This is how I knew him. I’m 100% sure he will fit into our dressing room. While he was my player he was always positive, never missed a training, was never injured. Hopefully it will stay like this. Happy in a good state of mind, influencing the group in a positive way. This is how I remember Auba, how I felt him when I met him here in London when he was playing for Arsenal. This is what we expect from him.”
Can Aubameyang break the curse of the number 9 shirt?
“We hope so. It’s now on us to prove it and me to find a position and create enough support for him and on him to finish our attacks and be strong, be on the pitch.
“I’m not sure if he took the number 9, I am not aware at the moment [Aubameyang has taken the number 9 shirt]. If he did I think he is not afraid of the past and what the number means. He is ready to write his own history. If he is brave enough to take the 9, he takes the 9.”
Are you happy Aubameyang feels he has unfinished business in England?
“Auba is always happy to fight for something, to accept the challenge. The more challenges he has the better it is. If he wants to overcome the number 9 curse or show somebody in London he is better than people think, the more the better. He’s up for that and he’s happy.
“I know him as very focused and very open, a person with an open heart and very happy to be on the pitch every day. This is what we wanted. Very positive influence to any group. He is up for any challenge and he is happy to be on the pitch and score goals. This is what we want.”
What does Aubameyang need to do to win Chelsea fans over?
“I don’t know. I imagine that everybody is happy he chose the club in blue now instead of the club in red. I think they will see very early about what he is and is about, using his speed. Not only his speed to score and be selfish but he is very hard working, he always was. He’s the first line of pressing, very strong in counter pressing. He’s ready to work. That’s what made him special in Dortmund when he worked for me, that made him captain of Arsenal. He lifted some trophies there.
“Just to reduce him on last season when things became difficult, I cannot judge it. It’s very rarely in these situations that it is one person’s problem. It is what it is. I am not there to judge because it is none of my business. I can just tell you how I met Auba and how he was for me, how I met him as a person. I am convinced that he did what he did in any club. He scored and won titles. He has the winning mentality and positivity to be a huge influence in the group.”