If you have not heard of Alexandre Lacazette before now, welcome back to the world of light. Following his impressive 2014/15 season with Lyon in which he finished as the league’s top scorer with 27 goals in 33 appearances, the Frenchman was tipped for bigger and better things abroad. Instead, the Lyon local signed a new contract with his boyhood club, cooling all interest in him. A year later Lacazette hit a respectable return of 21 goals in 34 games despite his slow start to the season, bettered only by a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The feeling is that at 25 years old, he is risking stagnation should he remain at Lyon for another season. Reports of him being linked with a move to one of Europe’s top clubs have all but dried up since last season with the only exception being PSG. With the striker set to make a decision on his future at the end of May, one wonders where Lacazette will ply his trade next season. It is expected that Lacazette will make the move to Paris to attempt to fill the big Swede’s shoes with Ibrahimovic’s departure from PSG confirmed. The question is, why aren’t more of Europe’s top clubs making a move for the Frenchman?
With available top class striking prospects an apparent rarity in the market these days, and many clubs in need of recruitment at this position, it is curious that Lacazette’s name has been shrouded in mystery. A rebuffed approach from West Ham has been the only concrete story involving him so far this summer. Lyon have said that their prized possession is off limits for at least another year, but the striker seems to have other ideas. Given his age and talents, he could prove to be an asset for many clubs across Europe.
Lacazette is a mobile, pacy and skilful forward capable of playing both wide and through the middle. It is in the central striking position where he has truly shone, amassing 63 league goals in his past three seasons. Indeed, finishing is where his talents truly lie, boasting a respectable shot-per-goal ratio of 4.52 for last season. For perspective, Luis Suárez averaged 3.43 shots per goal, and the top scorer in England last season, Harry Kane, managed a ratio of 6.36. Possessing good technique and composure on the ball, Lacazette is adept at linking the play and bringing midfielders into the attack through both passing and dribbling. Averaging 31 passes per 90, he is certainly not what most fans would consider a poacher as he constantly looks to be involved in the play. Lacazette will not be the ideal target man at 5’9″ but he uses his body well all the same. He is good at holding off defenders in order to bring others into play, displaying good balance and strength.
image courtesy of Squawka.com
As alluded to above, Lacazette’s small frame sees aerial duels a challenge for him. Going against bigger, better defenders who won’t allow him space to turn and dribble may also prove a hassle in higher levels of play. With greater expectations at a bigger team, he will also need to be more consistent than he was last season. He ended the season with 21 goals with as many as 11 of them arriving in his last nine games. He will also want to improve his return of 12 assists in the past three years. Although, that may come naturally with better players around him.
Having shown himself capable of getting goals in a team built to his strengths, Lacazette should look to test himself at a bigger team to take his abilities to the next level. The time is right for Lacazette to leave his boyhood club and see if his talents are enough to make it elsewhere. Having missed out on a chance to represent Les Bleus on home soil for the upcoming Euros, a successful move to a higher profile team could be just what Lacazette needs to ensure he goes to Russia in two years time. As referenced before, West Ham had a bid of £31m rejected so his services will not come cheaply. But if his last two seasons in particular are an indication of what is to come from this talented striker, a fee in the region of £35-£45m may turn out to be a wise investment.