Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is 'basically selling his soul' by moving to Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian, according to former Liverpool forward John Aldridge.
Aubameyang is set to leave Borussia Dortmund for China, where he will earn an incredible £26.5m-a-year, according to the Daily Mail. The former AC Milan star was believed to be of interest to Liverpool and Manchester City and his decision to ply his trade in East Asia has baffled Aldridge, who described the Chinese Super League as 'third-rate'.
"Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could have been a dream signing for Liverpool this summer - but the Borussia Dortmund striker appears to be ready to join the ranks of sporting mercenaries instead," Aldridge wrote in his column for the Sunday World.
"Aubameyang is reported to be on the brink of sealing a move to Chinese football and for the life of me, I cannot understand why any serious sportsman would want to go and play in that third-rate league. Okay, we all like money and Aubameyang will be getting a lot of it very quickly if he joins Tianjin Quanjian, but he is basically selling his soul to the highest bidder by moving to China."
Aldridge believes Liverpool may have been in with a strong chance of signing Aubameyang due to Klopp's ties with Dortmund and thinks a deal for the £63m-rated Gabon international would have represented better value for money than a move for Virgil van Dijk, who could cost £70m.
But Aldridge, who spent two-and-a-half years on Merseyside, thinks the Reds were actually lucky to miss out on the 28-year-old.
"Aubameyang has been a prolific scorer with Borussia Dortmund over the last four years and the connections Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has at his old club may well have given him a good chance to get a deal done," Aldridge added.
"There was a suggestion that a fee of £63m would be needed to sign a striker who scored 31 Bundesliga goals last season and while that is a crazy figure, it would be the going rate in what is certain to be a crazy summer transfer window.
"If the rumours are true and the price tag on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk is set at £70m, paying less for a proven striker would look like a half decent deal. Yet it seems as if money is more important to Aubameyang than sporting ambition and for that reason, Liverpool may have had a lucky escape by not signing him."
Missing out on Aubameyang, aged 28, may have been a blessing in disguise, but Aldridge says Klopp needs to solve his striking issue and sign a new forward within the next couple of weeks.
Liverpool have already signed a striker this summer in the form of Dominic Solanke, but Aldridge does not see the former Chelsea starlet as an immediate solution and believes the likes of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge may leave Merseyside in the coming months.
"Danny Ings, Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and new arrival Dominic Solanke are not the answer to Klopp's striker problem and I suspect at least two of that four will not be at the club when this transfer window comes to an end," said Aldridge.
"I can see Origi and Sturridge moving on and we don't know how Ings will fit in after so long in the treatment room, so I hope the big striker Liverpool are crying out for arrives in the next two or three weeks."