The striker’s move from Arsenal to La Liga was put together on pizzas, promises and a director of football working miracles

The pizzas arrived close to 10pm and the paperwork even closer to midnight. By then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been at Barcelona’s Sant Joan DespĂ­ training ground for half an hour and in the city almost all day. He had come ready to sign an 18-month contract having done everything he could to bring them all to this point, reviving the move and maybe his career too, providing an unexpected solution to the club’s desperate search for a striker. But there was still a little longer to wait.

Before he could become a Barcelona player, Aubameyang had to formally become no one’s player. In the end, this wasn’t a deal between them and Arsenal but between him and Arsenal. When the documents arrived confirming his status as a free agent having waived his claim to £300,000 a week for the next 18 months plus a payoff, then and only then could he sign. They got there just in time, at the close of a tense, dramatic day: just one minute before deadline, the president Joan Laporta said.

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