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