Thomas Tuchel has challenged Chelsea’s new striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to prove Arsenal were wrong to sell him.
Tuchel completed a £10.3 million (12 million euros) deadline-beating swoop for Aubameyang on Thursday as the Gabon star was reunited with his old boss.
Aubameyang scored 79 goals in 95 appearances under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, earning a move to Arsenal in 2018 and finishing as joint top-scorer in the Premier League a year later.
But the 33-year-old was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy by Mikel Arteta in December amid disciplinary issues before being sold to Barcelona just weeks later.
Aubameyang declared he was returning to the Premier League with “unfinished business” in a nod to the acrimonious end to his time at Arsenal.
And Chelsea boss Tuchel admitted he will be very happy to see his new striker energised and focused to prove his point to Arteta.
“If he wants to overcome the number nine curse, or if he wants to show somebody in London he’s better than certain people think he is, then the more the better,” Tuchel told reporters on Friday.
“Because he’s up for that and he’s happy. I know him as a very focused and in general a person with a very open heart and very happy to be on the pitch every day.
“This is what we wanted, he’s a very positive influence on the training group.
“He’s up for any challenge, he’s happy to be on the pitch to score goals and this is what we want.”
Tuchel never had a problem with Aubameyang during their Dortmund spell and he claimed the striker’s issues at Arsenal may not have been all his fault.
“I imagine everybody’s happy that he chose the club in blue now, instead of the club in red. I think they will see very early what he’s about, and he’s about using his speed, but not only to score but also to work hard,” Tuchel said.
“I think just to reduce him on his last half a year, last season where things became difficult, I cannot judge it, but it’s very rarely that it’s just one person’s problem, these things.
“I’m not there to judge anything because it’s none of my business, I can just tell you how I met Auba and how Auba was for me.
“He did what he did in any club, he scored, and he won titles, and he has the winning mentality and positivity to be a huge influence on the group.”
Tuchel has joked that his players were scared of the number nine shirt, with the striker’s jersey left vacant after Romelu Lukaku’s loan return to Inter Milan.
Lukaku, Tammy Abraham, Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata and more have all failed to shine while wearing that number, but Aubameyang has accepted the challenge of wearing it.
“Auba is not afraid of the past and what a number means,” Tuchel said.
“He is ready to fight to create his own history, taking the number nine means he is brave enough.
“Auba from my point of view has always been happy to fight for something and to accept the challenge, so the more challenges he has the better it is.”
Aubameyang has arrived at Chelsea with a minor fracture to his jaw, after his home was burgled.
He will miss Saturday’s Premier League clash with West Ham but could return to training next week wearing a protective mask.