Is it now Lacazette to Lacagoals?
Has our once record singing been a flop?
Is it time for him to go?
Alexandre Lacazette has been an enigmatic player at Arsenal. He joined in the summer of 2017, and at last, we had a top striker to seemingly replace Giroud and outdo Danny Welbeck. If only Laca, Sanchez, and Ozil could combine, then we were onto a winner. The Frenchman started well enough, with a goal early in his debut. We won the game 4-3, with Giroud scoring a late header.
However, bar the Europa League run to the semis and a league cup final appearance, it was marred by poor away form and the toxicity of the latter Wenger period. Wenger left in this season of course, but Laca held up well. Whilst not as prolific as in Ligue 1 with Lyon, he was joined by Aubameyang in Jan 2018, and the two struck up a strong partnership with has persisted until today.
Laca’s best season was 18/19, though whilst winning Player of the Year at Arsenal, didn’t really perform in the Europa League final.
As for 19/20 – it has been dogged by injury but as much poor off the field conduct and issues too. Perhaps most egregiously the pic of him doing “hippy crack” balloons during the lockdown.
Laca has been poor this season overall, but he does have strengths. He is strong, technically able, and shows good close control in the penalty box. His game is similar to that of Firmino at Liverpool, as Laca likes to drop deep and link-up play well.
Some of his most notable goals for Arsenal have emphasised his close control, such as vs. Spurs in September 2019, Liverpool and Chelsea in 18/19, and Burnley early in this current season.
He doesn’t have the pace of Auba, but is as strong a finisher and more technically geared.
Has he been a flop though?
I’d argue no, he hasn’t been.
His goal record at Lyon was impressive.
Though with respect to Ligue Un, it’s not at the overall technical level as the Premier League. Defences generally aren’t as strong, and the level of competition at the top of the table isn’t always as intense.
Another aspect here is that at Lyon he was the main forward, but at Arsenal, especially with his buddy Auba, his game is more akin to a false 9, largely to allow Auba to hog the half-spaces and move into central areas.
So whilst he is in front of goal, it’s not his primary place in the team shape and he often shares the box as it were with Auba. In short, there may be fewer chances to score.
If Laca were our sole forward, or a more orthodox number 9, then maybe he could score more. Or at least match his Lyon goal tally.
In his first season in 2017/18, he was injured for a few months and needed time to get back to fitness. Had he been fit, he may well have got 20 PL goals alone.
Laca also has scored in big games, such as vs. Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United, Tottenham, and Manchester City. His goals also propelled us to the Europa League final, most notably vs. Napoli and Valencia.
Laca’s strikes vs. Spurs in 18/19, Liverpool in 18/19, and Valencia in the Mestalla, all are amongst the best executed in recent Arsenal memory.
The only fault here is a drop in form in 19/20, and that overall he hasn’t scored as liberally as he did in France. He has scored goals in clutch moments, and bar his weaker form this season has been amongst our most consistent players.
Fans can be reactionary, and yes, football is often a “what have you done for me lately?” business. But one bad season should not mask two prior good campaigns for us. One in which the fans ourselves voted him as the best player – I was one of them, incidentally.
I use the term “Lacagoals” in jest, though I do feel he has qualities still despite not performing well enough this season.there also was the story of his relational affairs in late 2019. Now, his private life is his business, and whilst affairs are not ethical they are not illegal (in the UK jurisdictions at the least). But given the stories in the press about this, and the fact that for many people one’s significant other is a major part of one’s life, who is to say this hasn’t affected his form? One could argue it shouldn’t – many people have relationship issues and still need to perform.
But then he is still human – and it’s wrong to say these things don’t take a toll. Maybe I’m reaching here – but then the human element cannot be ignored.
Should Laca leave?
I’d argue yes he should.
This may contradict the praises I’ve displayed above.
But there are other matters influencing me here.
We lack money – on the surface, it may seem silly as we earn hundreds of millions per year. But our business model as a club was rooted in Champions League football. As recently as 2017, our revenues were the fifth highest of any club in the world.
Now, per the latest Deloitte report (for 18/19 season) we’re 11th. Chelsea, Liverpool, and our good friends Spurs have all overtaken us. We’re unlikely, bar a serious mess, to slip from the top 20, though as revenues have fallen, then we need to reconsider our revenue and cost bases, as any business would in this scenario.
Moreover, Laca is 29 now and is nearing the end of his contract next year. Could we cash in? I feel we should. If we can get £40m for him, this can be reinvested in a replacement, and his wages would be off the books. I’d imagine he would get c. £150k p/w.
Our club needs a financial revamp, and this was apparent before the pandemic. And this may involve selling players who have value and can fund new signings. Of course, the club will have a transfer budget in place, but this can and will be boosted by player sales.
the club should be more ruthless in its dealings, and if Laca is too leave, then so be it.
This isn’t a slight on him, but we need a calculated approach here – and Laca is one of a few players we hold who can help us attain our goals.
There has been talk of a swap with Partey from Atletico Madrid, who would greatly ease our midfield woes. An at the time of writing, he helped Atletico draw 2-2 at the Nou Camp vs. Barca. He also featured well in Simeone and co’s CL win over Liverpool.
We also perhaps lack from playing Auba and Laca up top. And we need a healthier balance, especially with Martinelli and Saka coming through who occupy those areas.
So for tactical and financial reasons, it may be best to let Laca go.
Laca isn’t a bad player, and could offer us more considering our push for a European place and our FA Cup semi with Man City.
But overall, it may be time to call it a day, considering the overarching state the club finds itself in.
In summary, Laca has been mocked a lot by both Gooners and non-Gooners alike. But I feel he is still a good player, but now it may be time to cut ties.
If we can get £20-40m for him, even amidst the pandemic, then this can be beneficial for investing.
With Saka and Gabi’s signing new contracts lately, and strong talk of Auba re-signing, then it could be curtains all the same.
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.