Alexandre Lacazette. Once Europe’s most wanted striker back when he was tearing up his native France. 91 goals in just 129 appearances for Lyon in his last 3 seasons at the club. A prolific return meant he had admirers all over Europe vying for his signature. Arsenal had always been linked to the Frenchman and after his move to Atletico Madrid fell through, they pounced on him for £46.5 million in 2017.
Expectations were for Lacazette to become the next great goal scorer in North London. However, it now looks like he could be on the way out.
The striker has never really ‘dominated’ as such since arriving in England. He’s had spells where he’s looked unplayable, and with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in the last two seasons, formed a terrifying partnership. 41 goals in 109 appearances for the Gunners is a fairly good return on paper.
Yet in the 2019/20 season, fans are losing patience with the Frenchman. Just six goals in 22 games have led to Lacazette receiving a large amount of criticism. So much so, it’s divided the fan base on whether Mikel Arteta should look to sell him in the summer window. So many factors play into this decision for the young Spanish manager. Age, the other attacking options, formations, transfer fees. So we’ll explain why he should be sold…
Alexandre Lacazette – A great professional
First of all, it’s only fair we acknowledge the professionalism of the French international. Every game he plays, he fights for the badge and runs tirelessly for 90 minutes. A large criticism of Arsenal players in the past has been their work rate, passion and general care for the team they play for. That isn’t the case with Lacazette whatsoever.
“Throughout my childhood, and thanks to Arsenal’s former striker Thierry Henry and other French players, I always dreamed of playing for this club, so that dream has been fulfilled.”Lacazette on being proud to play for Arsenal.
An industrious player, which sort of makes me feel bad saying he should depart and I’m sure Arsenal fans acknowledge that too. But it’s a results industry, so let’s get to it:
Thinking long term – Age and reinvestment
Let’s begin with the obvious – He’s 28 years old. The appointment of Arteta signals a new era for Arsenal. Someone who is obviously inexperienced and has no track record, but immense potential. With that comes patience, the creation of a culture, philosophy and identity at the club. Something Unai Emery failed to create. But also a long term vision. Arsene Wenger always gave youth opportunities and encouraged young players to realise their potential by giving them minutes on the pitch. A 16-year-old Jack Wilshere for instance.
If this long term vision wants to start taking shape in the coming months, there has to be a clear out. Older players that, although are in their prime now, will sooner or later be on the decline should be sold. Even if that means talent like Aubameyang and Lacazette, who are quality players in the short term, need to be shown the way out for the sake of longevity. Short term pain, long term gain. I think the former Lyon striker could be part of that ‘older’ group. At the moment, he’s at an age that is considered a player’s prime and this is the first season where he’s truly under performed.
So offloading Lacazette in the summer could generate at least £30-35 million. Much needed funds for the manager in the summer. Player sales could be crucial to a successful summer window if you’re going for high money and in-demand targets like Dayot Upamecano. We did an article on possible Gunners targets in the summer HERE if you’re interested. Because let’s face it, it’s difficult to have confidence in the Kroenke’s putting their hands in their pockets for a second summer straight. Though their ambitions for the club is an article for another day. Either way, this gives two reasons. Both age and money play a part in this argument for the sale.
The next reason for selling Alexandre Lacazette is his generally worrying lack of form. As aforementioned, he’s really struggled to have a significant impact this season. Missing easy chances, struggling to hold up the ball effectively, and just a general lack of confidence has led to an alarming shortage of end product. Hence the increasing dependence on Aubameyang to pull a rabbit out of a hat every game. Of course he gives his all, which is why fans are so reluctant to get him off the books. Yet the Frenchman is showing his shortcomings at a time where the team need him performing more than ever.
You could argue this is incredibly harsh, considering his first two seasons at the Emirates have not been bad by any means. Moreover, just 1-2 goals here or there could spark a surge in confidence and all of a sudden, he could be the Lacazette of old. But, coupled with the other two reasons I stated above and the fact that he’s meant to be in his prime, it is worrying. Selling now before we see further deterioration next season could be a sensible move. Better to be proactive and ruthless rather than reactive.
Detrimental to the current system
The final reason you could argue is the most important. It’s to do with the system. Arteta clearly wants to play possession based football and return to a philosophy similar to Wenger’s. Lacazette is a fairly good play making forward with technical ability. Even in this poor season, he’s averaging 1.1 key passes per game.
Yet the issue comes with accommodating him to the detriment of the team. Currently, playing the striker up front forces his Gabonese teammate and the outstanding Gabriel Martinelli out wide. To have your top scorer and best finisher on the wing to accommodate a forward clearly shot for confidence is nonsensical. Furthermore, Martinelli has been excellent this season; persisting with this could hamper the Brazilian’s development. He’s clearly a striker and shouldn’t be forced out wide.
Summary – The Harsh Truth
So combining these reasons above combined, I feel it would make sense for Arsenal to sell Alexandre Lacazette. He’s been a fan favourite and at times, produced moments of magic Gunners will remember fondly. The poor guy was the club’s Player of the Year last season! Yet keeping him is a risk in so many ways as stated in this article. I could easily be wrong and he ends up being instrumental to the side for the rest of the season. Nevertheless, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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