Six months after Chelsea paid an eight figure sum to bring him to Stamford Bridge, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finds himself thrust beyond the peripheries of the squad. The striker was cut from the list of players registered for the Champions League knockout rounds.
Chelsea were obliged to trim back the numbers they had initially registered at the start of the season to make room for the new additions secured by the Todd Boehly consortium in a hectic January window where they spent an incomprehensible €540 million. Aubameyang finds himself the fall guy having not started for Graham Potter's side since November.
The decision may yet prove to be the death knell for the 33-year-old forward's short-lived Chelsea career. In 17 appearances for the Blues Aubameyang has scored three goals, though two of them came in Champions League wins over AC Milan in the group stage. It had been suggested that the former Arsenal striker could be on the move yet again last month but, having already played for Barcelona this season, FIFA regulations effectively preventing a player from playing for more than two teams in a season left him trapped in London limbo.
With Chelsea limited to three new additions to the squad in the Champions League, center back Benoit Badiashile, a regular starter since arriving from Monaco last month, has also missed out on a spot in Potter's group. Instead it is Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk and Premier League record signing Enzo Fernandez who have been added to the selection.
Hakim Ziyech, who only missed out on a deadline day move to Paris Saint-Germain due to issues with paperwork, remains in the squad. United States men's national team forward Christian Pulisic, sidelined until March after suffering an injury, is also on the list. Chelsea face Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16, the first leg of which takes place at the Westfalenstadion on February 15 (you can catch all the Champions League action on Paramount+).
Aubameyang's absence from the Chelsea squad will prompt further questions over the recruitment plans of Chelsea's new owners, who signed the Gabon international on deadline day in September as Thomas Tuchel was keen to reunite with a player he coached with greater success at Dortmund. Six days later Tuchel was sacked, a decision that ownership said they had been considering for some time prior to the German's eventual dismissal.
Since then Aubameyang has started just four Premier League games, the most recent a 1-0 defeat against his former side Arsenal. He has not been named in a starting XI in any competition by Potter since and in a loss to Manchester City last month he was brought on in the fifth minute only to be withdrawn just over an hour later.