For a striker who has netted double figures in the Premier League for each of his three seasons in English football, Alexandre Lacazette is a somewhat unloved player.
The Frenchman had long since been one of Europe’s most feared strikers – he had hit 113 goals across the four seasons at Lyon prior to his switch to Arsenal in 2017.
Known for his hold-up play, physique, work-rate and deadly, powerful finishing ability, the Gunners broke their club-record transfer fee at the time to land the France international.
His arrival in North London was somewhat a surprise, too, and felt like a deal that was one of convenience for both parties.
Lacazette previously had a deal in place to join Atletico Madrid that summer, but the move fell through as the Spanish club’s ban on registering new players was – somewhat surprisingly – upheld.
That summer, the Gunners were desperate for a striker. Alexis Sanchez had his heart set on an exit, and left six months later, and the other attacking options were equally underwhelming. Olivier Giroud also left the following January, with Lucas Perez and Danny Welbeck both totally on the periphery.
So Lacazette’s arrival was never a long-term plan and he was somewhat shoehorned into a team undergoing a great deal of change.
The striker has had three different permanent managers across his three seasons in North London, while more expensive forwards have arrived in subsequent transfer windows – diminishing his status.
Indeed, the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January 2018 significantly changed Lacazette’s status in North London. The Gabonese striker not only took the club’s transfer record but also the attacking mantle at the club.
Lacazette’s stint as the star man for Arsenal was all too brief and whilst he has become far from a peripheral figure, he is far from an unsellable asset.
Aside from Aubameyang becoming the main man, Lacazette’s time in England was initially overshadowed by the furore of Sanchez’s exit, then the ongoing questions on Mesut Ozil, along with further attacking arrivals such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nicolas Pepe.
Now links have re-emerged linking Lacazette with a transfer to Atletico Madrid once more, three years on from the initial move collapsing. It has been reported in both L’Equipe and Marca that the striker is on the radar of the Spanish capital club, and they are even in a position where they can offer players in exchange.
Of course, Atleti midfielder Thomas Partey has been heavily linked with a move, as he remains Arsenal’s number one transfer target this summer, although any deal looks to be unattainable due to the player’s £45million release clause. A swap deal between the two could directly prove to be beneficial for both clubs.
Other players have been linked in direct exchange by the reports, including wide forwards Vitolo and Thomas Lemar.
Both have fallen from favour in Diego Simeone’s squad due to the Argentine’s huge demands on his attacking players, yet either would provide further attacking depth from wide positions for the Gunners and would fit into either a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation with ease.
As per Sportrac.com , Lacazette is Arsenal’s fourth highest earner and his exit would clear a significant chunk of the club’s wage bill, alongside a potentially significant transfer fee.
Furthermore, the Gunners already have two readymade replacements to step into the breach of a central attacker. Gabriel Martinelli was the breakthrough star in North London last season, hitting double figures in just 26 appearances while Eddie Nketiah, now 21, is also back in the fold following a successful loan spell at Leeds United.
Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s attacking style is more fluid while options such as Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe provide a direct threat from the wide positions.
Lacazette has traditionally been utilised as a central striker, but his lack of mobility and pace has often hindered the team in attack against sides playing a higher line.
Once again, Lacazette’s future is not a headline-grabber due to Aubameyang’s future – the Gunners captain is out-of-contract next summer and could be sold this year if no agreement is found.
Lacazette is now 29 and this is likely to be the last opportunity both he and Arsenal have to secure him one final big move in his career.
With young replacements already at the club and with an exit potentially facilitating further arrivals at the Emirates Stadium this summer, the club may be tempted to agree to a sale.