Recent findings show that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may have Jamie Vardy to thank for playing an unintentional key role in the Gabonese striker’s big-money contract at Arsenal
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Jamie Vardy’s meteoric rise from non-league football to Premier League winner will forever be one of the great sporting stories, and the 34-year-old has also seemingly – and unintentionally – helped earn Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the contract of his career.
Vardy didn’t make his way to the Premier League via the conventional route, but the striker’s consistent blistering pace and ability despite his age helped Arsenal put their faith in Aubameyang.
Arsenal watched Vardy, who is nearly two years older than Aubameyang, and determined his pace would still be at a high level over the duration of his contract.
Former Arsenal head of elite performances, Darren Burgess, revealed all to the Athletic.
Burgess remembers how before breaking the club’s transfer record for a player of Aubameyang’s profile and age, it involved making comparisons to get a fair assessment about how much of his pace and ability would remain over time, and Vardy was the best case study for this.
He revealed: “We started to look around, with the help of StatDNA (Arsenal’s in-house data and analytics platform), and we did a lot of searching around the globe on who has his weapon – which is, of course, his pace.”
The former Arsenal head said that they were purely focusing on the speed: “It wasn’t so much a question of skill and finishing ability which is obviously world-class because that can still happen with people who are slow.
“But in terms of his pace we thought, ‘OK, who around the world has his level of speed and how are they doing aged 32 to 35?”
Who will score more goals this season – Vardy or Aubameyang? Let us know in the Comments below
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Burgess revealed that Leicester’s leading marksman Vardy was the obvious candidate and “was still displaying elite speed and obviously dominating at that older age”.
That proved “useful’ in Arsenal’s own analysis, and helped club chiefs make their mind up on their talisman.
It led to Arsenal offering Aubameyang a huge three-year contract worth £55million contract in 2020, due to their findings, which determined that he would still be among the quickest players in the top flight even with things like natural regression taken into account.
Burgess admitted that their striker is only human, but will still likely be able to rely on his lightning speed for some years to come.
He also admitted that Aubameyang’s record of avoiding injury has been incredible and something the club considered when configuring their package to keep him on for the long term.
After struggling to justify that contract last season, pressure is on Aubameyang to come up with the goods in 2021/22, but Arsenal will be confident – and hopeful – they’ve got their assessment right.
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