Every transfer window, there’s a player who the papers seem to be keener on pushing for a move than potential suitors. A player who has that ‘Yeah, but’ tag which prevents big clubs from cashing in on him despite earning much credit for his quality.
Alexandre Lacazette fits that mould. The Olympique Lyonnais striker has been perpetually linked with a move away from his hometown club, with Arsenal fans wary of seeing rumours involving him possibly moving to the Emirates Stadium. The French international boasts one of the best domestic goal rates in all of Europe, has improved his all-round game the last two seasons and, given today’s ridiculously inflated market, comes at a relatively cheap price tag (€40 million, according to Transfermarkt). Yet, potential suitors still aren’t fully convinced his beastly game in Ligue 1 will translate to beautiful results in more challenging leagues.
Why is this? Aside from the fact Lyon and club president, Jean-Michel Aulas, have been stubborn in their desire to hold on to the striker and eek out as much money as possible for him, Lacazette does come with some question marks. He churned out 37 goals in 45 games in all competitions this season, which on the surface should have clubs all over the continent desperate for his signature. But when you consider 11 of those goals were penalties (10 of his 28 league goals were penalties), it takes a bit of the gloss off. Two seasons earlier, he netted 27 times in the league, but scored nine penalties on his way to that tally.
Additionally, for teams in the Champions League looking to fill a need up top, his performances in the competition have been spotty at best. He scored just two goals in 10 starts over the last two seasons there, drifting out of games as he lacked consistent service and failing to affect games in other facets as Lyon crashed out of the group stage both times.
With that said, Lacazette just turned 26 years old in late May, leaving much room for improvement for a player who has made his conversion from winger to centre forward a seamless one. In his early years, Lacazette was mostly deployed on the right, possessing a crafty dribble and blistering speed that drew markers to open up space for then striker, Bafétimbi Gomis, to capitalise on. After Gomis left for Swansea City in 2014, Lacazette blossomed into one of France’s most capable marksmen, maintaining his strong dribbling ability (averaged a career-best 70% success rate in 2016/17) and speed while gradually adding hold up and link up attributes to his game. Despite lacking a consistently good first touch, he makes up for it with quick feet and instinct.
Few are better at making the penalty area his own than Lacazette, who has scored 63 of his 75 Ligue 1 goals the last three seasons inside the area, always positioning himself off the shoulder of the last defender. Additionally, he tends not to waste too many chances as Lacazette has averaged roughly a goal ever four and a half shots from open play the last three league campaigns and put 60% of his chances on target.