Alexandre Lacazette needs to be sold by Arsenal, but where can he end up next? We list three potential destinations for the French striker.
2019-20 has been one tumultuous season for Arsenal. Unai Emery’s time at the Emirates came to an end on a whimper after a horrible start to the season. Mikel Arteta has since taken charge of the first-team and yet another transitional period has begun for the Gunners.
However, despite Arteta’s arrival, results have not always been ideal, with Arsenal never really going into a honeymoon period under the new manager. That has been a result of, in large parts, the continued struggles of players across the pitch. One player who perhaps exemplifies Arsenal’s blow-hot-blow-cold nature the best is Alexandre Lacazette.
For someone who was the north Londoners’ Player of the Season for 2018-19, a 180 in the current campaign has come as a huge surprise. Lacazette’s numbers for the 2019-20 season are truly startling to say the least.
The 29-year-old has not even managed to reach double figures for goals so far this term in what is a spectacular fall from last season, when he had managed to score 19 goals. To make matters worse, he is not faring any better when it comes to setting his teammates up either. From 13 assists across all competitions last season, Lacazette has fallen to a paltry 3 assists in the present season.
The alarming drop in numbers is especially puzzling because a deep dive in his stats suggest that he has been taking approximately as many shots and touches in a game as he had all through his Arsenal career.
However, a closer look reveals that a large proportion of Lacazette’s touches have come outside the box while his involvement inside it has reduced considerably. His natural striker’s instincts slowly seem to have dissipated away as the season has progressed.
Apart from the numbers, however, what also potentially makes Lacazette an expendable member of Arteta’s squad is Gabriel Martinelli’s advent this season. The Brazilian might have primarily been used out wide since Arteta was appointed as the Arsenal boss, but there is no denying the fact that he is the Gunners’ long-term solution as a striker.
Furthermore, Lacazette had even been benched with Eddie Nketiah getting preference over him a few weeks before football was halted in England due to the outbreak of COVID-19. What has also weakened his cause is the recent balloon inhaling controversy, which has landed him in hot water with Arsenal.
On the flip side, however, an argument could perhaps be made that 2019-20 was a rare bad season for Lacazette and a senior figure who was Arsenal’s Player of the Season as recently as in 2018-19 should be given a longer rope. Also, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rumoured to be set to leave Arsenal, keeping the only other experienced head in attack would be a prudent move.
Having said that, once the pros are weighed against the cons, the scales are tipped in favour of offloading Lacazette, especially seeing as potential replacements are being identified for him too. But, where could the former Lyon captain be off to next? The Hard Tackle lists three potential destinations.
The Logical Choice – Atletico Madrid
Lacazette’s strongest links thus far have been with Atletico Madrid, and the Arsenal striker is a player that the Spanish heavyweights could really do with, despite his struggles. At present, Diego Simeone has at his disposal the likes of Joao Felix, Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa to be a part of his team’s strike partnership.
While Felix is one for the future and should come good in due course at the Wanda Metropolitano, Costa has clearly regressed too much to continue remaining a regular. Morata, on the other hand, is someone who is extremely inconsistent and has an uninspiring tally of 12 goals and 3 assists in 32 appearances in all competitions this season.
So, it is clear that Simeone could really do with a striker in his squad – someone who would not just push Morata and Felix but also compete with them to be a regular face in the side. Lacazette might have some mortifying numbers to show for his efforts this season.
However, in a league that has traditionally been slower than the Premier League and where he ought to be afforded more time and space on the ball, if he drops deeper, Lacazette should ideally see his figures improve, should he join Atletico Madrid, whose system should suit him as well. For all intents and purposes, this is a transfer that makes the most sense, logically speaking.
Homecoming Beckons? – Lyon
Lyon have not really been linked with Lacazette. However, at a time when a squad overhaul – both Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele are touted to be set to leave the club – is in the offing at the Groupama Stadium, signing someone like Lacazette would be a step in the right direction for Les Gones to not just bolster their attack, but also sign an experienced head and a leader in the process.
A former Lyon captain, Lacazette would be the influential figure Lyon must have in their squad to regain their place among the elite French clubs. As for the player himself, Rudi Garcia’s possession-based style of play would cater to his strengths.
Who knows, going back to the league he knows like the back of his hand might also bring back some of the lost spark. Taking Lyon back to the UEFA Champions League would serve as added motivation as well. However, the big bone of contention for Lyon would be Lacazette’s wages.
At Arsenal, the 29-year-old makes over £180,000 per week – wages that Lyon surely would not be able to afford, given their current financial predicament. So, in order to move back to his former club, Lacazette might have to take a pay cut, something which will surely end up being a hurdle, if Lyon do show an interest in him. In terms of fit, however, they would be a near-perfect option.
Left Of Centre Option – AC Milan
Unlike Lyon, AC Milan still have a chance to play European football next season. Should they manage to return to the Europa League (let’s be frank, Champions League qualification is a no-go for the Rossoneri), they might well be able to snatch Lacazette away from other suitors.
Reports suggest that Serie A’s fallen giants are in the market for two strikers, with a permanent deal for Ante Rebic in the works as well. Rebic’s former Eintracht Frankfurt teammate Luka Jovic is an option for the Rossoneri, but Lacazette would be an ideal player to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is rumoured to be likely to leave the club this summer.
Lacazette would not just replace Ibrahimovic’s goals. More critically, he has the right kind of experience and leadership ability, which Milan sorely lack in their squad, to take over from the Swedish striker. And, like La Liga, the slower pace of Italian football should keep him in good stead.
For now, Lacazette does not seem to be on Milan’s agenda, but signing the French international ought to be a correct decision, if the Italian outfit do consider a move for him. As for the 29-year-old, uncertain times loom ahead for him, although a strong showing upon the resumption of the Premier League could help his cause.