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Xavi hails Aubameyang for his impact & setting great example during short stint at Barcelona

18:52 BST 02/09/2022
Barcelona's Pierre Emerick Aubameyang 2021-22
The tactician expressed his ‘sadness’ at losing the Gabon striker but lauded the forward’s contribution in his brief spell with the Blaugrana

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has hailed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s impact at the club during his short spell in Spain.

Aubameyang, who joined Barcelona in January from Arsenal, sealed a transfer deadline day move to Premier League side Chelsea worth £10 million with Marcos Alonso moving in the opposite direction.

The former Gabon captain made an instant impact in Spain, hitting 13 goals in 23 matches, helping the Blaugrana qualify for the Uefa Champions League with a second-place finish, having struggled at the start of last season, and Xavi is grateful to have signed the striker.

“I feel bad because he helped us a lot,” said Xavi during his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“He is an example on and off the pitch, he made a big difference, just look at his numbers. As a person, he is a jewel, always training with a smile on his face. It’s a shame because these kinds of players you want to have in your squad but it was a good opportunity for him and for the club as well.

“We needed to put the pieces of the puzzle together, we are all happy but I feel bad as a coach to lose a player like Aubameyang. He was an example for the entire club and all the players.”

Aubameyang was expected to lead Barcelona’s attack this season following his impact in 2021-22 but the signing of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich relegated him to the bench.

The former Arsenal captain has reunited with Thomas Tuchel who was his coach at Borussia Dortmund for two-and-a-half years (2015-2018) when he scored an impressive 100 goals in 119 matches in all competitions before moving to Arsenal in January 2018.

Chelsea have been in the market for a striker since Romelu Lukaku returned to Inter Milan and Tuchel feels Auba can fill that void.

"Hopefully he can be that good again, we know what we get, he delivers goals and speed and work rate against the ball so it's a big package he can bring to our group," Tuchel said on Friday.

Aubameyang will, however, not be involved in Chelsea’s Premier League clash with West Ham at Stamford Bridge as he awaits protective gear for his jaw that was injured during a robbery at his home in Barcelona.

"At the moment, he cannot train and we need to get him a mask to protect his jaw and then we can start from next week," added Tuchel.