Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has joined Barcelona on a free transfer after a dramatic on-off deadline day saga.
Aubameyang was pictured arriving in Barcelona on Monday lunchtime, when the clubs were in talks over a potential loan move, but as reports emerged that the deal had broken down it was suggested he had only been in the Spanish city to visit family.
However, the deal was revived late in the day as a permanent transfer, signalling the end of the forward’s Arsenal career.
Aubameyang was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy over a disciplinary breach last month and has not made a first-team appearance since, having been exiled by Mikel Arteta.
Later on Tuesday evening, Aubameyang posted a goodbye message on social media: “To the Arsenal fans, thank you for making London home for myself and my family for the past four years.
“We went through ups and downs together and your support meant everything to me.
“Having the chance to win trophies and the honour of being the captain of this club is something I will forever keep in my heart.
“I have always been 100 per cent focused and committed on doing everything I can for this club which is why leaving without a real goodbye hurts – but that is football.
“I’m sad I did not get the chance to help my teammates in the last few weeks, but I have nothing but respect for this club and truly wish all my guys and the fans all the best and many successful years in the future! Love, Auba.”
The 32-year-old leaves Arsenal after four years at the club, having joined from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 for a then club-record £60m fee.
Arsenal were willing to allow Aubameyang to leave after stripping him of the captaincy in December following a disciplinary issue.
The club were keen to offload the Gabon international this month in order to make some saving on his astronomical £350,000-a-week wages and joining Barcelona allows the 32-year-old to continue his career at the highest level, having rejected interest from Saudi Arabia.
Arteta sanctioned Aubameyang’s departure in spite of the Gunners’ own shortage up-front.
Youngster Folarin Balogun has already gone on loan to Middlesbrough, leaving Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette as the only senior centre-forwards at the club – and both are due to be out of contract at the end of the season.
Serbian forward Dusan Vlahovic had been Arsenal’s main transfer target this month but he has left Fiorentina to join Juventus instead.
“We wish Auba all the best for the next chapter in his career and thank him for his contribution to the club,” Arsenal said as they confirmed the striker’s departure.