Barcelona star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his family have been moved to a five-star hotel following their violent robbery ordeal – as it emerged the forward turned down advice to hire 24-hour security.
Aubameyang was reportedly assaulted by a group of four men and threatened with firearms and iron bars in front of his wife Alysha Behague and their two terrified children.
The thieves escaped with jewels after Aubameyang was forced to open a safe within the property in Castelldefels, a coastal town south of Barcelona.
Aubameyang, 33, was struck on the chin with an iron bar, while Behague suffered a blow to the head, but they decided against hospital treatment in order not to further frighten their kids.
Catalan news outlet ARA reported that Barcelona moved them to the luxury Princesa Sofia hotel and has given them psychological counselling.
The children – Curtys, 11, and Pierre, six – saw their parents held on the ground for an hour while the thieves ransacked the house in the early hours of Monday morning.
Police are looking for the assailants and believe they belong to an organised gang of Kosovar Albanians.
The gang apparently staked out Aubameyang’s property while he was away in the United States on Barcelona’s pre-season tour.
At that time, they tried unsuccessfully to enter the house but were deterred by an alarm. On this occasion, however, the alarm was disconnected because Aubameyang and his family were at home.
The gang were easily able to scale a garden fence to gain access and made off in a white Audi A3.
ARA also report that Babanzila Meshak – a young Gabonese footballer who plays for Terrassa, a fourth-tier side, and has been living at Aubameyang’s house – was at home during the robbery but unharmed.
Barcelona have been advising their players to hire private security for their properties to deter criminals.
However, because Aubameyang has been linked with a move away from Barcelona this summer, he had not yet hired anybody to protect his property.
The incident comes as Aubameyang is linked with a return to the Premier League after interest from Chelsea, just seven months after he left Arsenal having fallen out with Gunners manager Mikel Arteta due to disciplinary breaches.
Aubameyang, who was heavily scrutinised on Amazon’s fly-on-the-wall documentary about Arsenal over his perceived poor attitude, is known for driving flashy sports cars and showing off his jewellery and designer brands.
It is not the first time Barcelona players have been victim of robberies and theft, with Aubameyang’s team-mate Robert Lewandowski having his £59,000 watch stolen outside the club’s training ground.
Lewandowski’s watch was snatched as the 33-year-old greeted fans ahead of an evening training session with Barca.
The thief is said to have opened Lewandowski’s car door and taken the watch as the Polish international signed autographs, before attempting to run after the thief himself.
Police quickly arrested a suspect and Lewandowski got his watch back before participating in the practice session ahead of Sunday’s LaLiga game at Real Sociedad.
Last November, young winger Ansu Fati had his home burgled while he was downstairs watching the club play against local rivals Espanyol.
Some of the 19-year-old’s family were sitting downstairs in the property during the break-in, which reportedly saw money, watches and expensive jewellery stolen.
Concern was raised by family members around 10pm when ‘noises’ were heard from upstairs, where assailants had allegedly gained access to the property.
A 112 call was then made by the concerned family but when police arrived they found no-one upstairs, leading to the belief that those who had entered had since fled.
Fati, 19, made a trip to the Mossos police station in Sant Cugat on Monday, as per La Vanguardia, as he detailed what had been taken during the robbery.
In 2018, there were a trio of Barcelona stars targeted by thieves. Midfielder Philippe Coutinho returned home to discover his home had been burgled, while a group of men broke into the house of defender Gerard Pique while he was preparing to play for Spain at the World Cup.
Later on in that year, thieves smashed their way inside left-back Jordi Alba’s property while his family were inside.
There were another spate of robberies and break-ins in 2019 too as former midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng reportedly lost jewellery and cash worth between £255,000 and £350,000 after a gang entered his house while he was playing a match.
Aubameyang’s break-in saga comes after former Manchester United star Paul Pogba claimed he was the victim of an £11m blackmail plot by a gang who dragged him to an apartment in Paris and threatened him with assault rifles.
The 29-year-old, who has won the World Cup with France, said the men wanted the money for ‘protection services’ stretching back 13 years, including for the time he spent in Manchester.
Pogba claims two armed men said they ‘protected him discreetly’ during a period that spanned more than a decade, including during two spells at Manchester United, the last of which ended earlier this year.
The Frenchman said the gang had been threatening him for four months.
Acts of intimidation were carried out in Manchester in April, and later around the Italian city of Turin, where Pogba currently plays for Juventus.
The gang is also said to have taken Pogba to flat in the Paris suburb of Lagny-sur-Marne, where Pogba grew up, at the end of March. There, the gang members accused Pogba of not helping them financially since he became a professional player.
During police interviews, Paul Pogba said he had always been close to his childhood friends and helped them out financially when he could.
But in January he kicked one out his house in Manchester after discovering that the unidentified man had used Pogba’s credit card to steal €200,000 – the equivalent of £170,000.