Arsenal revealed on Wednesday that the club had finalized a move for striker Alexandre Lacazette from Ligue 1 side Lyon for a reported club-record fee of €53 million that could rise up to €60 million with bonuses. The 26-year-old French international has signed a five-year contract with the Gunners.
Lacazette was heavily linked with a move to Atletico Madrid earlier in the summer, and it seemed like the deal was pretty much done when the news came that FIFA was upholding Atletico’s transfer ban, which hinders them from registering any new players until January. This gave Arsenal the perfect edge to swoop in and secure the Frenchman’s services.
Lacazette has been one of the better goal scorers in Ligue 1 for several years, and he finished the 2016-17 campaign with a personal-best 28 goals in 30 league appearances and a total of 37 in 45 games in all competitions. To put that in perspective, Lacazette had more league goals than Arsenal’s strikers Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez combined last season.
Arsenal moved Alexis Sanchez from the wing to play centrally in attack last season as the other options weren’t panning out. Giroud is widely inconsistent and has a knack for missing a lot of chances. Welbeck has struggled with injuries and doesn’t look to be more than a squad player, and Perez is now looking to be on his way out with the arrival of Lacazette.
Giroud has been the choice ahead of Lacazette by manager Didier Deschamps on the French national team, mostly due to the fact that the French have Antoine Griezmann and Deschamps wants someone who can hold up the ball. Giroud’s style of play works well with the national team, but it seems to hinder Arsenal at times as it likes to play with speed. Lacazette provides Arsene Wenger with some more options, as he has the pace to run in behind the defenders, as well as dropping deep to receive balls.
Giroud found himself starting most Arsenal games on the bench last season, and he ended the season with 12 league goals in 29 appearances. He has long been the choice for Wenger up front, but his lack of killer instinct in front of net saw the manager chose to move Sanchez in centrally instead of going with the 30-year-old Frenchman. Giroud has been linked with a move away from the club, as he has expressed he doesn’t want to spend another season on the bench.
With 91 goals in all competitions over the last three seasons, Lacazette is one of the better strikers in Europe. He has been rumored to be moving away from Lyon for several years, and now the club finally decided to cash in on its star.
Lacazette will also be a good bargaining chip for Wenger in an effort to keep Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at the club. It shows a willingness to spend in order to improve the squad, and although Lacazette doesn’t make Arsenal into a bona fide title contender, it is a big step in the right direction. It can also help with additional signings as Arsenal will try to break back into the top 4 in the Premier League and get back to the Champions League after finishing in fifth place last season.