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Alexandre Lacazette | Mitchell Cook

Any modern football fanatic of modern football knows that Arsenal are not big on spending.

In fact, the most expensive player Arsenal have ever bought cost them £42.5 million—an amount that is dwarfed by the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester city, who have all spent upwards of £50 million on a single player.

It’s no wonder then that Arsenal’s newest signing of Lyon talisman Alexandre Lacazette has seemingly purged the Arsenal bank account by signing for a fee of £52.7 million. Amongst many other things the transfer could mean for Arsenal, the fact is that Lacazette has now eclipsed Mesut Özil—who is arguably one of the best attacking midfielders in the world—as Arsenal’s most expensive player EVER!

But while Arsenal fans have found themselves rambling and boasting about their latest signing, many questions are still looming in the back of their minds.

Is Lacazette good enough? Is he worth the price tag? Could he be the next ‘Thierry Henry’? Wait… let’s not get too excited.

Instead, let’s find out who this man really is and who he could be for Arsenal come the 2017-18 season

Who is Alexandre Lacazette?

Lacazette first gained international recognition as a teenager competing in UEFA’s European Under-19 championship. In climbing through the ranks at Lyon, he gained continual interest from larger European clubs but persistently stayed loyal to his boyhood team. Always tipped as a special player, Lacazette continued to develop into the goal scorer we have only come to know within the past few seasons. After scoring over 100 goals for Lyon in the past 4 seasons, Lacazette is not only the leading goal scorer in France—outscoring the likes of PSG’s Edinson Cavani—but also one of Europe’s highest goal scorers.

Lacazette’s league goals since 2013/14 in the top-five European divisions

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): 139 goals in 130 games (82 mpg*)

Lionel Messi (Barcelona): 134 goals in 136 games (85)

Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund & Bayern): 97 goals in 129 games (111)

Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli & Juventus): 95 goals in 142 games (117)

Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon): 91 goals in 133 games (122)

 

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Alexandre Lacazette at his former club Lyon | FC Tables

Equally, in what is termed as Lacazette’s break out season, the 2016-17 campaign saw him score 37 goals in 45 appearances for Lyon. That’s incredible by any standard. But let’s put that further into perspective. If we measure Lacazette’s goal tally against those of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who is arguably the Premier League’s best striker, Lacazette would have finished second in the Premiership’s golden boot race with 27 league goals. Not bad eh?

Now whether Lacazette can replicate his success in the much more competitive atmosphere of English football remains to be seen. But bear in mind, Lyon finished fourth in Ligue 1—and that’s not the type of dominance the likes of Lewandowski and Suarez enjoy at their respective clubs.

So, what makes Lacazette special?

Judging on pure talent alone, one could say that Lacazette is more than gifted. There is definitely more to his success than a great team around him and a few wingers to square the ball across the box for a tap in.

He’s a ‘number 10’; an extremely well-rounded player. He’s creative, pacy, technically good and a great finisher within the box. You could say, he’s the kind of player who can spearhead an attack whilst create opportunities for himself as well as his team mates.

Does that remind you of someone? Another Frenchman perhaps?

Hint; he wore the unforgettably symbolic number ‘14’ jersey for Arsenal in their glory days.

Yeah, you probably guessed right.

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Thierry Henry with Arsène Wenge | PA: Press Association

It’s hard not to compare Lacazette to Arsenal’s all-time leading goal scorer Thierry Henry. They’re both French, they’re both strikers, they have a knack for scoring goals and soon, they will both have played under the legendary Arsène Wenger.

But before we go calling Lacazette ‘The Next Henry’, let’s first agree that the two are different moulds. Henry was more gifted as an athlete than Lacazette. He was taller, bigger and could chase pigeons; Henry was really fast.

Lacazette, on the other hand, is cut from a different crop. Still quite pacy, Lacazette relies much more on his technical prowess than raw physical ability.

Whereas Henry was a more explosive and powerful player, Lacazette is more of a technical, quick-footed type striker. They’re different. And despite our assumptions, it seems all too unfair to prematurely compare Lacazette to an Arsenal Legend.

We could see the day that Lacazette evens Henry’s tally of 228 goals for Arsenal… but until then, it may be best to drop the comparisons and let the man settle in first.


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