One of the most exciting young attackers in Europe the last few seasons has finally come to England with Alexandre Lacazette signing for Arsenal earlier this summer. It's a big, big move for the Gunners, giving manager Arsene Wenger a silky, free-scoring striker who really seems to fit all the things that Wenger's side has wanted to do for years but never quite been able to pull off. Just the idea of such a high-quality attacker getting thrown into Arsenal's front line has Gunner fans salivating, and he could make his team much, much more fun.
Why you'll love watching him
Lacazette is a natural goalscorer with a knack for always popping up in the right places to wreak the most havoc. He's not a high-work rate, all-action striker who's going to constantly be pressing and running, but when he does start making a run you need to pay attention. With the ball at his feet or given a chance to run at the ball, Lacazette can be an extremely lethal player with a fantastic ability to change direction and finish from a variety of ranges.
One of the things that makes Lacazette so dangerous when he's in motion is that he has the ability to feint a change in direction one way, then quickly flip his hips and move another way. He leaves a lot of defenders flailing around trying to follow him as a result, which is just the kind of hilarity and impressive play that fans love to see.
His finishing also has a habit of dropping jaws, with Lacazette owning a long record of audacious finishes from bizarre angles and situations. Surrounded by defenders, angling around a wall, beating a goalkeeper to the far post — there are few shots that Lacazette isn't capable of. Of course, he's just as capable of streaking in for the opportunistic tap-in, and that's always a good thing for a striker like him.
How much did he cost?
Lacazette required a record transfer fee for Arsenal to sign from Olympique Lyon, costing them £46 million up front — just more than the £42 million fee paid for Mesut Ozil — and with another £7 million in performance-related incentives available for Lyon to collect. Add that to reported wages of around £13 million per season for five seasons, and it's a very, very expensive deal: potentially £118 million over the course of all five years.
More than that, though, Lacazette could ultimately cost Arsenal a pair of other high-quality attackers in Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, with Giroud losing significant playing time to Lacazette's arrival and Sanchez generally wanting to go somewhere else after a frustrating season in London. Arsenal will need to make more transfer money after spending so much on Lacazette as they don't have the Champions League funding to rely on, so sales of those two players went from "likely" to "priority."
That said, Lacazette does fill a long-desired hole up top for Wenger, bringing a play style as a striker that his tactics have long been built around, but that the Gunners haven't had in years. It's a hefty price to pay for it, but with what Lacazette gives them and how much Wenger has wanted that exact package, it's definitely understandable why they would make this signing.
Is he worth the money?
At 26, Lacazette has less peak time left in his career compared to your average striker, making such an expensive signing a little bit of a gamble. That said, he did start hitting his peak a little later on than most strikers do, so that could give Lacazette another year or two of time before his skills start to decline to the point that he can no longer be considered a top striker.
Ultimately, whether or not Lacazette will be worth it will depend on whether his attacking contributions are enough to help push Arsenal back into the Champions League picture in England starting this season. If he does, then the answer will be an unequivocal "yes." If not, well, as long as his performances are still strong, then Lacazette would probably still be worth it. But there would be a lot more hesitation and gnashing of teeth involved from fans who wanted to see more talent brought in with some of the money committed to the young French striker.
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