All eyes will be on whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will return to Borussia Dortmund’s starting line-up at Hertha Berlin on Friday, with the star striker reportedly chasing a move to Arsenal.
Dortmund coach Peter Stoeger has told magazine Sport Bild he “assumes” Aubameyang, who has scored 21 goals in 23 matches this season, will stay, but “if he leaves, it will be hard to replace him with that goal quota”.
German media reports claim the Gabon hot-shot is chasing a transfer to Arsenal after being disciplined on Sunday, with Dortmund wanting 70 million euros ($85.6m) for last season’s Bundesliga top scorer.
“He has trained with the team and is in our plans,” Stoeger said firmly of Aubameyang with one eye on Berlin.
The 28-year-old, who hit 31 league goals last season, was dropped for Sunday’s goalless draw at home to Wolfsburg for skipping a team meeting.
It was the third time he has been disciplined by Dortmund in the last 16 months, following an unauthorised video shoot on club premises last November and his jetting to Milan before a Champions League game a year before.
Stoeger started 18-year-old Alexander Isak against Wolfsburg, but Dortmund’s attack missed Aubameyang’s finishing as they failed to convert a string of chances.
Dortmund’s England Under-19 star Jadon Sancho hit the post in the second-half as both sides played out a goalless draw.
Dortmund are set to welcome back US international midfielder Christian Pulisic, while new central defender Manuel Akanji could feature against Hertha.
The 19-year-old Pulisic has recovered from the shin knock which kept him out of the Wolfsburg match.
“It’s looking good for him,” Stoeger said. “As things stand, he’s an option for the weekend.”
Swiss Akanji arrived from FC Basel on Monday, with the 22-year-old centre-back signing a contract which runs until June 2022.
Fourth-placed Dortmund are unbeaten in their three league games since Stoeger took over from Peter Bosz last month, while Hertha are down to 11th after crashing to a 1-0 defeat at Stuttgart last weekend.
Fixtures (all times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Hertha Berlin v Borussia Dortmund (1930)
Hoffenheim v Bayer Leverkusen, Freiburg v RB Leipzig, Borussia Moenchengladbach v Augsburg, Mainz v VfB Stuttgart, Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburg v Cologne (1730)
Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen, Schalke v Hanover 96 (1700)