Chelsea and Marseille have reportedly intensified talks for Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang.
According to The Athletic, negotiations are well underway as the Blues look to remove another unsettled star from their books amid a mass clearout administered by new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
While Marseille hold genuine interest in the 34-year-old striker, they must overcome several obstacles to get the deal over the line, starting with the player’s hefty wages.
The Gabon international’s substantial £160,000-a-week salary threatens to blow the Ligue 1 outfit out of the water unless they can persuade him to take a pay cut.
They must also agree to a transfer fee first, as Chelsea have no intention of letting the former Arsenal skipper depart Stamford Bridge on a zero parameter.
Pochettino has made his feelings about Aubameyang clear by pushing back his scheduled return date to report for pre-season training three times, hoping to offload him on short notice.
Having been omitted from the Chelsea squad for the upcoming pre-season tour to the United States, the Gabonese forward will arrive at empty premises on his return on Monday.
With Chelsea taking off on Monday, Pochettino has left Aubameyang out in the cold following an underwhelming season that saw him bag only three goals in 22 appearances across all competitions.
Nine players have already paid the price for an embarrassing 12th-place finish in the 2022/23 Premier League campaign, with at least three more expected to join a large departing contingent.
N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have already terminated their associations with Chelsea.
Aubameyang, Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi are next in line, with the latter courted by Fulham, who are confident of luring him to Craven Cottage despite seeing their first bid rejected.
As for Aubameyang, he’ll unlikely have a better chance of extending his European career than Marseille, with several Saudi Pro League clubs pondering moves to end his London misery.