Xavi Hernandez arrived at the club amidst turmoil and chaos. The first team had strayed far, far away from the style of football that made the club so famous. The squad is full of talent. But there seemed to be a real imbalance in the distribution of quality across all 11 positions. Upon Xavi’s request, Alemany introduced some winter reinforcements, who, regardless of name-value, possessed the correct profiles which Xavi desired. One of those being, of course, the Gabon International, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Arriving with question marks
Aubameyang left the Emirates Stadium on sour terms, centered around a toxic relationship with his former mentor, and disciplinary concerns. Regardless, Xavi had been asking for a natural number 9. A pacey, prolific striker. Moreover, a player who relies on movement, quick link-up play, and formidable acceleration to exploit vulnerabilities in the opposition’s defense. while the player arrived at the club with a bag full of concerns and questions, the former Arsenal captain fit the description immaculately.
At first, there was a lack of understanding between ‘Auba’ and the rest of his teammates in his first games. However, it didn’t take long for him to get going. From choosing when to drop deep to complete quick linkup play, then identifying spaces in behind the backline to run into. Then, finally exploiting those spaces once he receives the ball. Aubameyang’s recent success is more of a testament to Xavi’s clear tactical ideas, than individual quality.
While it’s unlikely that the new Barcelona signing will maintain this sort of scoring form through the rest of the season, the emphasis on player profiles over individual quality is clear. It’s the same reason Memphis Depay seems to lack a clear role in Xavi’s squad, whereas Luuk de Jong has comparatively thrived in the current system, despite positional football being foreign to the Dutchman.
Whether Aubameyang remains at the club past this season is yet to be seen. Regardless, given Xavi knows how to get the best out of each player’s profile in his squad, Mateu Alemany and Joan Laporta should continue to provide him with all the necessary resources.