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Footballers who returned to boyhood clubs following Lacazette's move back to Lyon

Alexandre Lacazette has sealed an emotional return to Lyon following a five-year spell in the Premier League with Arsenal.

The French striker first arrived at the Ligue 1 giants back in 2003 when he was just 12-years-old.

He moved to north London in a £52.6m deal back in 2017 which was a club record for Arsenal, but after five years at the Emirates Stadium Lacazette is heading back to Les Gones.

The France international returns to the Groupama Stadium on a free transfer, following the expiry of his Arsenal contract.

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The 31-year-old stands fourth in Lyon’s all-time scoring charts, having netted 129 goals in 275 matches.

Lacazette showed flashes of brilliance during his time with the Gunners, but he was unable to transmit his clinical goalscoring from Ligue 1 to the Premier League.

In a frustrating final season under Mikel Arteta, which saw the Gunners narrowly miss out on Champions League qualification to north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Lacazette scored just four league goals during the 2021-22 campaign.

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He finished his Arsenal career with 71 goals in 206 games.

With Lacazette’s move back to his beloved Lyon on a three-year deal confirmed, TBR takes a look at other high-profile footballers who returned to boyhood clubs.

Footballers who returned to boyhood clubs

Arjen Robben

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Following a trophy-laden decade with Bayern Munich the legendary Netherlands winger, who terrorised left-backs, originally called time on his playing career, but in 2020 he came out of retirement to sign for his Dutch boyhood club FC Groningen.

However, injuries hampered his second stint with Groningen and Robben was only able to make seven appearances, from which he provided two assists.

In his first chapter with the club Robben scored 12 goals and provided five assists. The former PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea and Real Madrid announced his retirement last summer.

Wayne Rooney

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After two full seasons in the Premier League which had brought 15 top-flight goals, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United splashed out £27m to sign Everton’s wonderkid in August 2004.

Rooney spent 13 years at Old Trafford where he went on to become the all time scorer for club and country as well as winning 17 trophies.

After a season playing under Jose Mourinho at the Theatre of Dreams, Rooney returned to Goodison Park on a free transfer in July 2017.

Rooney scored ten Premier League goals in the 2017-18 season which saw him play under Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and David Unsworth.

Following a year with the Toffees, Rooney joined MLS side DC United before returning to England with Derby County where he was later appointed the club’s permanent manager.

Carlos Tevez

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The Argentine officially hung up his boots earlier this month and Tevez had three chapters with Boca Juniors during his long career.

Tevez started his career at Boca before moving to Brazilian giants Corinthians in January 2005. Alongside his compatriot Javier Mascherano, the pair shocked the footballing world by signing for West Ham United in August 2006.

After a season with the Hammers, Tevez moved to Manchester United where he won the Premier League and Champions League before opting to join United’s ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City where he picked up another league title and won the FA Cup.

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Following four action-filled years at the Etihad, Tevez joined Italian giants Juventus where he won back-to-back Serie A titles, as well as reaching a Champions League final.

But after scoring 50 goals in 96 games for the Old Lady, Tevez decided to return to Boca in July 2015 where he spent 18 months before becoming one of the biggest names to be lured to the Chinese Premier League.

Tevez was only in China for a year with Shanghai Shenhua before sealing a return back to Boca. He stayed with his boyhood club for a further three-and-a-half years before leaving as a free agent and then calling time on his career.

He won the Argentinian league title five times with his beloved Boca Juniors.

Robin van Persie

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Starting his career with Rotterdam giants Feyenoord, Van Persie’s wand of a left foot caught the gaze of Arsene Wenger.

The Netherlands youngster left Holland for the Premier League, joining Arsenal in 2004, and while he endured some frustrating setbacks due to injuries, Van Persie’s quality often came to the fore.

However, his move to bitter rivals Manchester United didn’t go down well with the Gunners faithful, but in his solitary season playing under Sir Alex, he finally got his hands on the Premier League trophy.

The star striker left England for Fenerbahce in 2015, and in January 2018, made the decision to go full circle and return to Feyenoord.

In the 18 months he played for his boyhood club, Van Persie went on to score 25 goals in just 46 appearances before retiring.

Andriy Shevchenko

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Following three impressive seasons with Dynamo Kiev, Shevchenko had caught the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs and he sealed a big money move to AC Milan in 1999.

Ukraine’s all time top scorer finished his first spell with the Rossoneri with 173 goals from 296 matches to his name. The 2004 Ballon d’Or winner won the Champions League, Serie A and three cups with he Italian giants.

Chelsea paid a club record £30m to sign Shevchenko from Milan in 2006, but the world-class striker struggled to shine in England and he scored 22 goals from 77 matches before returning to Milan on loan.

Shevchenko spent a season back at the San Siro from which he scored just two goals. But in August 2009 he returned to Dynamo Kiev where he spent three further seasons before retiring.

The 45-year-old has stepped into management and has been the manager of the Ukrainian national side as well as an 11-game spell with Genoa earlier this season.

Fernando Torres

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Torres spent five years in the Atletico Madrid first team before Liverpool paid £20m to make him their number nine in July 2007.

He had been at Atletico since 11 and became their youngest ever captain at the age of 19. In his three-and-a-half years at Anfield, Torres scored 80 goals from 141 games before Chelsea broke the British transfer record by paying £50m to bring the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge in January 2011.

Torres won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup with the Blues, but the World Cup and two-time European Championship winner scored 45 goals from 172 appearances for the west London giants.

After a 10-game spell with AC Milan, the prodigal son returned to the Spanish capital with his beloved Atletico in January 2015 and he was part of Diego Simeone’s side that won the 2018 Europa League.

Torres finished his playing career in Japan with Sagan Tosu, but he’s back at Los Colchoneros and is currently the manager of Atletico Madrid B.

Gianluigi Buffon

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Completing TBRs list of footballers who returned to boyhood clubs is undoubtedly one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Twenty seven years after leaving Parma for Juventus, Buffon returned to Ducali and is still playing professionally at the age of 44.

Buffon signed a new contract in February and extended his deal with the Stadio Ennio Tardini side to 2024.

Italy’s all time appearance maker, who has won the World Cup as well as ten Serie A titles, will be hoping to fire his childhood club back up to the Italian top-flight next season.

Buffon, who won the 1999 UEFA Cup with Parma, made 26 appearances for the Italian giants last season.

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