Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a 24 year old Gabonese forward, son of Pierre senior, a former Ligue 1 player himself, and brother of two other young players, Catilina and Willy. Having grown up in Italy, where their father worked as a talent scout for AC Milan, all the three sons played with the Rossoneri youth teams.
Pierre-Emerick, after some spells at Dijon, Lille and Monaco, joined Saint Etienne on a permanent deal in 2011 and this year he has played as a centre-forward and on the wing, scoring 19 goals and providing 9 assists at the time of writing.
Now he is one of the most sought after young attackers in the upcoming European transfer market, and it certainly seems as though he is playing his last season with les Verts. WhoScored.com caught up with the forward to discuss his future, favoured positions and more:
With Saint Etienne still in with a great chance of qualifying, how much of the club's and your own personal aspirations rely on playing European football next season?
We have one more game in Ligue 1 and we have a great chance of qualifying for the Europa League, or maybe even the Champions League. We have had a great season and I’ve scored 19 goals until now. Obviously, my target is to arrive at 20 goals this season and to play in a European competition next year. I don’t know if it will be the Champions or Europa League, but for sure, at this point in my career, I need to play in Europe. I am not sure if I will play here in France or not, I know that many top teams are following me, so we have to decide at the end of the season.
Christophe Galtier has been the manager ever since you joined the club but you have worked under others in loan spells as well. How does your current manager's coaching style compare?
Firstly, Christophe Galtier is a great manager. He played with my father in the past, and I know he called him during my time at Monaco asking not only about my characteristics and my qualities on the pitch, but also of my life, and my attitudes off the pitch. He has helped me to grow up a lot, and now, thanks to Galtier, I am a better player.
Although you've started games as a centre forward more often than not this season, a large number of your goals have come when starting in wide positions. Which of the two roles do you think suits you best?
It was Galtier’s idea to play me out wide. When the club bought Brandao, the manager asked me about the possibility of playing wide on the right or the left. At the beginning I was quite suspicious but then, after consulting with my father - who is my mentor - I convinced myself that it could be a good idea. And it was. Now I am a more complete and mature player. I can play in the centre, on the right or the left, and I can score goals from all these positions. Also, with the Gabonese national team I don’t play as a centre-forward, but behind the lone striker. In that position I can move more, and I don’t give reference points to the defenders, so I have more opportunities to score goals.
Despite beginning your professional career with AC Milan you have played the vast majority of your football in France. How keen are you to test yourself in another country?
As I said, now at 24, I am more mature and convinced about my potential. I think I have the characteristics to play in all the leagues. I like the Premier League, because I like the physical game, and I like the Bundesliga very much. I have seen a lot of Borussia Dortmund’s matches, and I love their style of play. My characteristics could match perfectly with the style of play adopted by Jurgen Klopp. I know they followed me recently, so we have to see at the end of the season. At the same time I love Italy. I have a lot of friends in Gallarate, near Milan, where I grew up. My father worked for the Rossoneri and in the family we are all Milanisti. So, I think there are a lot of possibilities for my future.
Who is the best defender that you have faced this season, both as a centre forward and a winger?
Thiago Silva. Definitely. He is a top class player, one of the most skilful I have ever seen. I had a great match in Paris though, and I scored a goal. That was a great game. We won 2-1 away and we started to think that we had a real chance of qualifying for the European competitions.
Do you feel that the money being injected into the French game at the likes of PSG and Monaco will be beneficial to the league in the long run and do you think that the former's spending power has impacted on the competitiveness in Ligue 1?
I think it’s a good thing. I mean, now Paris St Germain are a top team in France, and in the near future, they will be a top team in Europe. I think it’s great that a capital like Paris has a team like PSG. Now they can buy the best players in the world, and this is a good thing for all of their fans and all the football fans in France. Next season it will be Monaco, and more top players will come to France. It’s good, not only for PSG and Monaco, but for the entire Ligue 1.
As the league's second top scorer behind Ibrahimovic, finishing is unsurprisingly shown as a strength in your player characteristics at www.WhoScored.com. Do you set yourself targets in terms of goals?
For a centre-forward it is obviously important to score goals. Last season, I had a target of 15 goals, and I netted 18. This season I had at target of 20 and I am at 19, with a match to play. Therefore it’s possible to reach my target, and I want to score in the last game at Lille, against one of my former teams.
You also rank among the league's top players in terms of assists this season. How important is it for a forward to be able to create chances for teammates, and do you keep track of the number of goals you've set up as well as your goal tally in itself?
In the modern game, for an attacker, it is important to score goals and provide some assists. A modern player has to do everything. As mentioned before, moving from the centre to a wide position was an advantage for me. I learned to play a different style and to score goals from different angles.