In what could be perceived as a boost for Barcelona, Chelsea could be forced to give away Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for free this summer as they look to trim their bloated squad, reports Matt Law of The Telegraph.
Aubameyang left Barça to join Chelsea last summer in a deal worth £12 million. The striker started off well at Stamford Bridge but was soon frozen out by former manager Graham Potter, who even axed the centre-forward from the Champions League squad in January.
An exit in the winter was proposed, but Aubameyang refused to join Los Angeles FC as he sought a return to Barcelona. The Blaugrana, too, were keen on re-signing the Gabonese striker in January, but RFEF rules prohibited them from making a move.
Heading into the summer though, both parties remain keen on a reunion.
Barcelona need a striker to provide cover for Robert Lewandowski in the No. 9 slot. Vitor Roque had been their primary target, but the club cannot afford his signing at this point and could thus turn to a cost-effective option like Aubameyang as a short-term solution.
As for Aubameyang, the striker is understood to be intent on returning to Barça, so much so that he is even willing to take a substantial pay cut in order to secure a move back to Catalonia in the summer.
While both club and player are keen, Barcelona had made it clear that they would only consider a move for Aubameyang if he were to arrive for free.
And now, with Chelsea facing a big ask of trimming their squad and reducing their wage bill, they could be forced to offload the 33-year-old striker for free as Barça, as well as his other suitors like Atletico Madrid and AC Milan, are unlikely to agree to pay any fee.
One to keep an eye out for as we get closer and closer to the summer transfer window.