An agreement between Barcelona and Chelsea for the transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be imminent with many at the Catalan club feeling he has taken part in his last training session, according to reports in Spain.
The west London club have been locked in talks with Barca over a deal for the 33-year-old striker, with manager Thomas Tuchel eager to be reunited with a player who thrived under him at Borussia Dortmund.
But Chelsea have been reluctant to pay a sizeable fee for a player who only moved to Camp Nou on a free transfer in February, while Aubameyang himself was initially thought to have had some reservations about leaving the club so soon after arriving.
Now Spanish newspaper AS are reporting that negotiations have accelerated in recent hours and all parties feel a deal could be completed very quickly.
Barcelona boss Xavi had been keen to keep Aubameyang as part of his squad, but the failure to offload Frenkie de Jong means the former Arsenal striker must be sacrificed to allow the club to register new signing Jules Kounde.
As such, the Catalan side ideally want the transfer completed within the next 24 to 48 hours so they can register Kounde in time to face Valladolid on Sunday.
Chelsea will pay a total package worth €25million (£21m), which is significantly more than their opening bid but also less than the €30m (£25m) Barcelona were initially demanding.
Talks are advancing so quickly that AS claim Aubameyang’s team-mates suspect he has trained with the club for the last time.
The forward reported to Barca’s Ciutat Esportiva complex on Thursday morning for a light session after playing against Manchester City in a friendly on Wednesday night.
But the players have been given Friday off and will not report back for another session until Saturday morning, by which time Aubameyang’s move to Chelsea may have been completed.
On his Jijantes FC Twitch channel, Spanish journalist Gerard Romero also showed footage of Aubameyang arriving at Barcelona airport early on Thursday afternoon.
He is believed to be flying to Paris to spend time with his family given that he would not have to report back to Barcelona’s training complex until Saturday morning, but it is not inconceivable that he could fly straight from the French capital to London once Chelsea’s deal has been given the green light.
As well as Barca wanting to wrap things up quickly to register Kounde, the west Londoners will be eyeing noon on Friday as the point by which they would need to have signed Aubameyang in order for him to feature on Saturday against Leicester.
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