After scoring his 19th goal of the season, Alexandre Lacazette is enjoying the best season of his career. How long can Arsene Wenger resist the temptation?
Last night Alexandre Lacazette scored his 19th goal of the season as he put Lyon on their way to a 4-1 victory over Czech Republic side Viktoria Plzen. It was another example of the French striker’s quality, and another example of why Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has to do everything possible to convince the 23-year-old that he needs to join the Gunners this summer.
With the scores tied at 1-1 going in the second half, it was Lacazette’s second goal in the Europa League that got the ball rolling for the home side. He peeled away from the shoulder of the last defender, used his first touch to control the ball and his second to tuck his shot into the bottom corner.
He has so often been Lyon’s savoir this campaign, it was his late goal against Ukrainian side Odesa that sealed their place in this round and after the 4-1 victory, Lyon will be confident of becoming the first French side to reach the Quarter-Finals of the Europa League. It is not usually a competition the Ligue 1 sides take seriously, tending to focus on finishing in the top three and aiming for Champions League football. Remi Garde has done an excellent job to balance his very small and very young squad, and now they have to give the competition the credit it deserves and Lacazette can use it to propel his name even higher in the footballing ladder.
This season he has excellent beyond Lyon’s expectations. He had mostly played as a right-sided forward, using his pace and trickery to puzzle defenders, but he had never shown that cutting edge. Now in Garde’s 4-4-2 diamond, Lacazette has looked the complete forward. Able to use his pace to get in-behind the defence, he has the strength to bully his way past opponents and the skill, speed and movement to dance beyond flailing defenders.
His finishing has improved immensely as he grows in confidence. Before this campaign he hadn’t scored more than five in one season, now on 13 league goals, he is establishing himself as one of France’s forwards. Laurent Blanc didn’t select him for the latest international squad, but if he continues to find the back of the net he will find his call difficult to ignore, as will Wenger.
Arsenal are still lacking that little bit of spark and magic that could turn them into genuine title contenders. Oliver Giroud is a great target-man, but he lacks mobility. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are wonderful wingers, but can lack the ability to finish consistently. Lacazette is able to combine all those abilities and could just be the missing piece that Wenger has lost from his jigsaw.
Lyon President, Jean-Michel Aulas called Lacazette “untransferrable”, but if you wave enough money in his direction, Aulas can’t resist the smell of a good deal. Everyone has a price; at Lyon that saying is more than just a cliché. Lacazette is constantly picking up the phone; will Monsieur Wenger take the call?