Dortmund eye German Cup, Aubameyang eyes door
Hot-shot striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bids to lift his first title with Borussia Dortmund on Saturday amidst growing speculation the German Cup final will be his last appearance for the club.
Dortmund face Eintracht Frankfurt at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium at 2000 local time (1800 GMT) with Borussia bidding to end their run of three straight defeats in Germany’s showcase final.
“Every time we have been to Berlin in the past three years, we have had to drive home empty handed,” Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer told daily newspaper Die Welt.
“It’s high time that we won again.”
But this could be the last appearance for both Aubameyang and head coach Thomas Tuchel.
“I will speak to the club and make my decision after the final,” said Aubameyang when asked about his Dortmund future having reportedly been considering bumper offers from Italy, France and China.
Despite having a contract until 2020, German daily Bild claim Aubameyang, the Bundesliga’s top-scorer this season with 31 goals, has already told Dortmund’s bosses he wants to leave.
Having arrived in 2013, the German Cup could be his first and last Dortmund title with AC Milan, Paris St-Germain and China’s Tianjin Quanjian, where he could earn 500,000 euros per week, having reportedly made offers.
After Aubameyang’s predecessor Robert Lewandowski left on a free transfer in 2014 for arch rivals Bayern Munich, Dortmund will want to cash in, should their Gabon star decide to go.
Likewise, Tuchel could be overseeing his final game after two seasons.
The 43-year-old fell out with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke after insisting he was not consulted about whether to play their home Champions League quarter-final less than 24 hour after the April 11 bomb attack on the Dortmund team bus.
Watzke says that is not true and the pair will have clear the air talks after the cup final.
For now, Dortmund, who last won the German Cup in 2012, just want to lift the cup at the fourth attempt in as many years.
They lost the 2014 final 2-0 to Bayern after extra-time, were beaten 3-1 by Wolfsburg in the 2015 edition, then defeated 4-3 on penalties by Bayern after it finished goalless after extra time last year.
“Three defeats after another, as well as the lost Champions League final the season before that (in 2013), is really enough,” said Dortmund’s French winger Ousmane Dembele.
Security will be tight in Berlin with 75,000 expected to attend the final.
Following the Manchester terror attack, Berlin’s police will be stretched with a crowd of 100,000 expected for a separate religious festival, attended by ex-US president Barack Obama, in the capital.
Outsiders Frankfurt are bidding to end their 29-year wait for the German Cup and will be without defender Guillermo Varela.
After playing their last five games, the 24-year-old right-back, on loan from Manchester United, was kicked out of the Frankfurt squad for getting a tattoo on Monday, despite being told not to, which then got inflamed.
“Guillermo’s path with the club has been ended by his actions,” said Frankfurt’s sports director Fredi Bobic.
“The club can’t tolerate the fact that a player opposes the instructions of the coach and the team doctor before such an important game.”