ARSENAL have sold Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona on a permanent transfer for FREE.
The Gabon forward, 32, ‘surprised’ the Gunners by flying to the Catalan capital on Monday morning.
But a loan move appeared to collapse with the two sides unable to negotiate Auba’s mammoth £350,000-a-week wages.
Arsenal refused to pay the majority of the money if their former captain was playing for the LaLiga giants.
But just when it looked as though the striker would be forced to return to London with his tail between his legs, the two clubs have struck a remarkable compromise just three hours before the transfer window closes.
Arsenal simply allowed the outcast to leave, terminating his contract as they did with Mesut Ozil a year ago.
Aubameyang has now severed all ties with Arsenal and will not be returning to the Emirates.
And that has paved the way for Barcelona to negotiate directly with the player, who has essentially become a free agent.
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There is an agreement for a permanent deal for an initial six months – with the option of a further year.
It means Arsenal will save themselves £26million in the wages which Aubameyang was due over the remaining 18 months of his contract.
But they have also written off a player who cost them £60million when he joined from Borussia Dortmund exactly four years earlier.
It is understood that Aubameyang – the Gunners’ sixth January departure – is taking a massive pay cut to sign for Barcelona, who are operating under strict FFP regulations after reporting a £1.6billion financial loss last year.
The final details of his new paperwork are currently being ironed out in Spain.
Aubameyang looks on course to complete a medical before the 11pm deadline, too.
Hospital staff were told to prepare for the striker’s arrival to get it all done and dusted in time.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta earlier insisted the club will ‘work until the last minute’ to get a deal over the line.
He told Mundo Deportivo: “We would like to incorporate Aubameyang. It is very complicated but there is hope.
“We’ve still options open. We’re working on it and we will until the last minute.”
Aubameyang’s initially-premature arrival in Barcelona prompted comparisons with Peter Odemwingie’s ill-fated attempt to join Queens Park Rangers in January 2013.
The Nigerian was pictured in his car at Loftus Road, only for no deal to materialise.
Seeing the funny side after the comparison was pointed out to him on Twitter, Odemwingie himself joked: “Someone sent me the first picture.
“Am I passing the award on? Aubameyang just make sure you ask Aguero for advice.”
More to follow…
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