On The Move: Alexandre Lacazette
After a stellar season scoring 31 goals, interest in Alexandre Lacazette is rife, and although not confirmed demand the outlets, such as Sky Sports, are eager to publish various links involving the Frenchman. Since coming through the ranks at his current club Lyon, he has enhanced his reputation with 51 goals in 139 appearances in Ligue 1. The Frenchman enjoyed his best season throughout the last campaign and his effort was praised with comparisons with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry due to his build and innate scoring ability.
His noble partnership with fellow academy graduate Fekir allowed the duet to flourish and a deal for them both should not be overlooked as they work together in such harmony. Though, with an assortment of choices for the 24-year-old the connection with Fekir could be set to come to an end, as could his time at Lyon. With such immense form there’s certain to be formal bids just over the horizon. Where could this red-hot Lyon born striker end up?
With the expected announcement of Carlos Bacca’s move to AC Milan, Liverpool look set to switch their attention elsewhere in terms of firepower. Having struggled last year after losing Suarez and reinvesting poorly in Lambert and Balotelli, goals have been hard to come by at Anfield. Gerrard led the league scoring with 9 goals, Sturridge was plagued by injury and the new signings never impressed.
The fans now crave a natural goalscorer to fill the hole Suarez left and Lacazette would fill it perfectly. He’d provide the final product from the intuitive play-making of Coutinho, Firmino and Sterling, if the England youngster is still there.
Lacazette would also add a turn off pace on the front line, something that was missing last season with Balotelli and Lambert. The Frenchman would give Liverpool another outlet where Rodgers could set up the team in a counter-attacking style. While ball retention not being his main strength, the Lyon striker is able to hold the ball up allowing him to play as a solo striker with Liverpool’s two creative Brazilian’s playing off him just behind the Frenchman. Signs show that Lacazette could play alone up front with his 58% take-on success rate. His solo goals have been one of the best sights of the Ligue 1 and would definitely be welcomed at Anfield.
Several hindrances also occur with Lacazette’s Liverpool link. Ignoring the obvious £50 million valuation from Lyon, Lacazette wants Champions League football, something Lyon offer while Liverpool don’t. Unlike Firmino’s move, moving to The Reds would be a step down as he wouldn’t have the opportunity to showcase his talent on Europe’s biggest stage.
Liverpool’s current strikers also provide their own problem. The £16 million investment in to Balotelli looks set to be given another season, due to the fact very few clubs want the trouble maker, not Liverpool’s desire to keep him. Borini wants to prove himself since rejecting a move to Sunderland last season and Rickie Lambert, a lifelong Liverpool fan, wants his incredible footballing story to end with success at Liverpool.
A new Thierry Henry in the mould of Lacazette is sure to be an instant hit at Arsenal, especially if the latter mentioned performs as well as the Arsenal legend. The Gunners offer Champions League football and can afford the fee meaning they have one foot in front of Liverpool in the race for the Frenchman.
Wenger also favours bringing in countrymen having employed many French players over the years. Lacazette would come in to compete with Giroud, a fellow French international. With Lacazette being the junior to Giroud it would enable the current Gunner to show his younger the ropes. This could have an immense impact adding a more evolved ‘target-man’ play style to the current Lyon player’s game while also forcing Lacazette to perform consistently to maintain a starting 11 spot.
A move to Arsenal doesn’t provide as many problems as a Merseyside move would but from Wenger’s point of view, is the potential £50 million outlay really needed on a striker. With Welbeck and Giroud already in place, the firepower is there, added confidence is what’s needed to Arsenal’s strike-force. Bringing in Lacazette could be fatal as it would show a severe lack of trust from Wenger towards his current forwards. Potentially destroying the confidence and erupting the squad harmony which is key to Arsenal’s fluid passing play-style.
The normal process of the press linking a top player to United has been resumed in terms of Lacazette’s transfer saga. With reports from the Mirror making United one of the favourites to sign the Lyon born striker at as little as £20 million. It’s a logical link as well, United are in desperate need of a striker with fans questioning Van Persie ability and Rooney having far too much weight on his shoulders, leading the line for United as captain while also having the England armband. Wilson is a player in progress and can’t be relied on next season.
Lacazette would allow United to play two up front with Rooney, or enable Rooney to drop further back to continue the 433 formation that flourished towards the end of last season. With the best conversion rate in Europe’s top 5 leagues at 34.6%, he would add the goals that an exhausted Rooney and declining Van Persie can’t.
Manchester United have the money available to spend on a much needed striker and will offer a hefty wage packet to the Lyon man who is apparently in a little dispute with his current outfit over his wages. United also offer something Arsenal and Manchester City possibly can’t with consistent first team football more achievable at Old Trafford.
However, at the highest level United need someone able to score against the top teams, especially in key Champions League fixtures. Lacazette scored many goals last season but few against the title competitors in France which may worry his suitors.
The £50 million price-tag may do little to put The Red Devils off but his Lyon loyalty may be a problem, especially as playing Champions League football for his childhood club would be appealing to any football fan in his situation.
The problems it would cause throughout the squad would also cause Van Gaal to cast doubts on a move for the Frenchman. Having to leave current stars out for a new arrival would show a lack of loyalty and may create a divide between the team and the Dutch leader.
If Madrid were to sell Benzema to one of the other teams mentioned, they could tactically remove them from the hunt for Lacazette. Along with the 24-year-old admitting Real are one of two clubs that could definitely tempt him to move, Madrid have the finance and are looking for a Galactico signing. Whether he quite fits that tag is questionable but a big money signing would follow the Florentino Perez transfer trend and would please fans.
Real also benefit from having stars such as Ronaldo and Bale in their ranks providing a unique selling point to professionals at other clubs. With Lacazette potentially joining these stars, he gives himself the best chance of winning the Champions League as Madrid are far more competitive in Europe’s biggest tournament then any of the English teams.
The problem lies with the new coach. Rafa Benitez is rumoured to want to play Ronaldo as the number 9 while rotating the players in the other positions. Competing with the Ballon D’or winner is something that Lacazette wouldn’t want as his game time would be severely reduced. Losing game time could cost him his national spot with Benzema, Remy, Giroud and Gignac all in competition with the Lyon man.
Not fitting the Galactico tag would also add unwanted pressure onto Lacazette if he chose to represent Real Madrid. As shown with the Illarramendi signing, not having a Galactico ego can be detrimental to fitting in at Los Blancos.
Having admitted to an uncertain future, Lacazette could be heading overseas this window. He has openly admitted that only Barcelona and Real Madrid could definitely convince him to leave Lyon but others with financial power may see him as the perfect striker addition. The hit-man would be treasured by any team in the world if he shows the form he did over the 2014/15 season. With clubs bound to enter a bidding war, this saga is worth keeping tabs on over the summer window.
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