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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took centre stage in El Clasico as Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid. The striker scored a brace as the Catalan club won 4-0 at Santiago Bernabeu.
The former Arsenal man certainly had his struggles in north London. Such struggles came on and off the pitch. His relationship with Mikel Arteta seemingly deteriorated to the point of no return. And that is when Barcelona stepped up.
The Spanish side signed the Gabon international on a free transfer in January. Since then, neither party has looked back. Moreover, the Gunners also seem to be progressing well without their former talisman.
Aubameyang’s focus is now solely on Barcelona. And he has proven that since joining. The striker now has seven goals in his seven La Liga matches so far. That includes a hat-trick against Valencia, and a brace against Real Madrid.
The in-form forward has also netted twice in the club’s Europa League run.
The 32-year-old is yet to complete 90 minutes for his new side. But not a single Barcelona supporter will worry too much about that statistic. He has played his role expertly, putting in a shift for 70-80 minutes before taking a well-deserved seat on the bench for the last few minutes.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 20, 2022
Aubameyang key to new-look Barcelona
Club legend Xavi has done a phenomenal job in the Barcelona dugout. The boss has overseen the team’s rise from mid-table to the top four. They sit third in La Liga, 12 points behind leaders Madrid.
There are several reasons behind this upturn in form. Xavi is, of course, one of them. He has assembled a superb squad. It’s filled with young, exciting talent, and older, more experienced heads.
As one of the more experienced players, a lot of responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Aubameyang. He has been exceptional since joining, marking his first El Clasico with a double.
With the goals, he became the first player to score in El Clasico, Der Klassiker, and the North London Derby.
A title charge may just be asking too much of Barcelona this season. But they have plenty to fight for, including the Europa League trophy and top four in La Liga. Aubameyang will be crucial to what lies ahead.
Fellow recent arrivals Ferran Torres, Dani Alves and Adama Traore will be equally key in the fight for glory in the coming months.
Free transfers coming to the fore
There have been a lot of high-profile free transfers in recent windows. The most significant was, of course, Lionel Messi’s switch from Barcelona to PSG. That move, however, has not worked out very well for the Argentine.
PSG also secured the services of several other top players without having to pay a penny. That includes Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Other clubs meanwhile have also been making the most of free transfers in recent times. Real Madrid landed David Alaba through this method, while Barcelona did the same with Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay.