Arsenal’s club record signing promises to make them title contenders.
It took Arsenal too many years to do this, but they finally shelled out some serious cash to bring in a world class striker. This past week, Arsenal announced the signing of French striker Alexandre Lacazette for a club record fee of 53mm euros, rising to 60mm. Lacazette had been rumored to make the jump from Lyon to the North London club for quite some time, and rumors finally became a reality. Lacazette offers a reliable goal scoring threat to supplement the Arsenal attack, and a 20+ goal season might be what it takes to push Arsenal back into title contention.
When you consider some of the superstars moving from the French league, Arsenal got a steal for 53mm euros. What they got is arguably the best finisher in France with a proven track record. Some other strikers from Ligue 1 include Anthony Martial who left Monaco for a higher price, and Kylian Mbappe, who is expected to have a price tag of double what Arsenal paid for Lacazette. Not to mention, players like Martial and Mbappe, although may be more beneficial in the long run, will not have as immediate of an effect and are more like projects compared to Lacazette who can more immediately help Arsenal win a title. Arsene Wenger has established a pipeline from Ligue 1 bringing in such talent as Samir Nasri, Robert Pires, Nicholas Anelka, Olivier Giroud, and Thierry Henry—not bad company. Wenger has been quoting stating “…at the moment the best players in the world are in France.” And Lacazette has all of the tools necessary to succeed in the EPL.
Lacazette is unlike any striker Arsenal has had for quite some time. He combines elements in Danny Welbeck’s game as well as Olivier Giroud. He reminds me of a more versatile Romelu Lukaku and has even been compared to Arsenal great, Ian Wright.
Much like Lukaku, Lacazette is an athletic specimen. He’s not quite as strong as Lukaku but offers a ton of speed. Unlike the Belgian international, Lacazette can play out wide or through the middle and is unbelievably good on the ball in tight spaces and with space to run.
What stood out to me is Lacazette’s hold up play. Much like Giroud, he is great at receiving the ball with his back to goal, shielding, and finding a good pass. But unlike Giroud, Lacazette can turn and take defenders on.
Lacazette offers tremendous pace like Danny Welbeck. If Arsenal continues to use their 3-4-3 with a high press style of attack, Lacazette is the right guy. Arsenal was able to press effectively with a pacey center forward and Lacazette has a high work rate on the defensive end. Lacazette can do everything Welbeck does, but better and with more versatility.
Now for the fun stuff, goals. Lacazette scored 100 goals in 203 league appearance for Lyon and scored 37 in 45 matches last season. He was the second highest scorer in the league only to Edison Cavani, and he won the golden boot in 2015 as well as was named the French player of the year. More importantly, he has shown consistency, scoring over 20 league goals each of the past 3 seasons. This will take the burden off Alexis (if he sticks around) and other strikers.
Lacazette can score in a multitude of ways. Most of his goals are inside the box relative to other top strikers but most of Arsenal’s goals also are inside the box, so his style should fit quite nicely. He is clinical in front of goal, converting a third of his chances and has a higher xG than Alexis. He is comfortable on his left and is an excellent penalty taker. Ten of his 27 goals were from the spot, which might be alarming, but Arsenal has been looking for a proven penalty taker for quite some time, and Lacazette is clinical. He often attacks and shoots with power, but has the flair to dink a little chip if needed and dribble past the keeper to put it in an empty net.
If Arsenal is able to keep Alexis and Ozil, their front three would be absolutely terrifying for defenses. Not to mention, Arsenal is still in the market for a winger including Monaco youngster, Thomas Lemar and former EPL player of the year, Rihad Mahrez. That is certainly enough fire power to put goals past any defense. Lacazette will look to join the ranks of other EPL greats to make the move from France including Henry, Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard and more. With even more pressure to perform well in the EPL, Lacazette will have high expectations as he hopes to bring glory to the Gunners.
Edited by Julian Boireau.
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