Alexan­dre La­cazette

The for­ward’s ar­rival has calmed Gun­ners fans – now he needs to start hit­ting the net

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS -

Some things are worth wait­ing for, and Alexan­dre La­cazette cer­tainly falls into that cat­e­gory. Yet, hav­ing turned 26 in May, his rel­a­tively late exit from his home­town club Lyon – de­spite sev­eral sea­sons of suc­cess – arouses sus­pi­cion among some in the mod­ern foot­ball world about the true level of his abil­ity.

While many as­pects of La­cazette’s game are very mod­ern – his pace and power spring im­me­di­ately to mind – there is also some­thing re­fresh­ingly old-fash­ioned about the man who grew up in Mer­moz, a short hop from Lyon’s old Stade Ger­land. Even if he made his first-team de­but just be­fore his 19th birth­day in 2010, it would be in­cor­rect to de­scribe the French­man as a teenage prodigy.

In­stead, La­cazette ground his way to the top, putting in the hard yards as a graft­ing pres­ence on the wing be­fore find­ing a reg­u­lar spot in Remi Garde’s XI as a cen­tre-for­ward as late as 2013, as a broke Lyon shed their high-earn­ers and pro­moted academy prod­ucts. Af­ter mov­ing up top, he scored 113 of his 129 goals for the club in just four sea­sons.

Grad­u­ates of the Tola Vologe academy have played a huge part in Lyon’s re­cent his­tory, from Fredi Kanoute through Karim Ben­zema to La­cazette and his close pal Sa­muel Umtiti, now at Barcelona. They are not just pro­moted to the first team but required to take re­spon­si­bil­ity. La­cazette has cer­tainly done so, lead­ing from the front and also wear­ing the cap­tain’s arm­band.

So La­cazette makes the runs, di­rects the game, drops deep to link play and, of course, scores the goals. His im­pres­sive fin­ish­ing has only im­proved over the years, and his 37 goals in 2016-17 were scored at his best shot-to-goal ra­tio yet. It’s not that he never misses, though. It’s that he’s not afraid to do so, ei­ther. What also au­gurs well is the prospect of his con­nec­tion with Me­sut Özil, ap­ply­ing the fin­ishes to those passes af­ter mov­ing the ball back-and-forth at pace – a legacy of the one and two-touch game that he learned while at Tola Vologe.

“THERE IS SOME­THING RE­FRESH­INGLY OLD-FASH­IONED ABOUT THE MAN”

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