Alex is here to stay.
The Frenchman, who had a fairly below-par season last year, is the latest player to state his willingness to stay at the Club, amid speculations about his future.
It’s been a few years now that we had players who were staying put while blatantly out of favor, like Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Mesut Özil, to name only a few. Life seemed way too comfortable at the Arsenal, for way too long: location and salary seemed to overcome pure footballing reasons in a virtual pecking order of reasons to stay or move, for our surplus-to-requirements players. Some of them were let go for free, some were sold for nominal fees but all of them clearly overstayed their welcome.
Something has changed this summer, though: beside the never-ending dispute surrounding Mesut Özil, those players who reiterate their desire to stay are doing it because the Arsenal is an exciting place to be, not because it’s too comfortable.
Alexandre Lacazette is the latest one to dismiss rumors and underline his willingness to be part of the project and “win titles”; those two words no longer represent a statement void of any true meaning, the Club and its manager are now seen as genuine contenders for silverware. Arteta confirmed this on Saturday.
It might be a bit too early for the “we are winning the league” conversation but it truly isn’t for any other trophy at stake this season and in the future (*cough* Champions League *cough*).
We look solid, well-drilled, focused and hungry like we haven’t looked in years and there’s a true sense of unity and solidarity in the dressing room, which reflects quite well on the pitch.
As brilliantly explained by my friend Mike in his latest “Positive, Needs and Hopes” column, Mikel Arteta is driving the team and the Club forward in spite of some obvious flaws in the squad, so it feels natural for the players to ask themselves: “what can this manager do with a more balanced squad?”
No player in this world wants to jump a ship that seems destined for bigger journeys and luxurious destinations and no one, at the Arsenal, wants to be out of this exciting project.
Rather than not wanting to leave because of monetary reasons, players are now pushing to stay because they want to be part of the project and bring their own contribution; although some will inevitably leave to make the squad manageable for Mikel Arteta and possibly generate the funds necessary to improve the areas where we lack numbers or quality, this is the squad that will give it a go at one of the Top 4 places at stakes.
Alexandre Lacazette is part of this squad and is becoming a very important cog in Mikel Arteta’s master-plan, mostly thanks to his unique profile within the current group of forwards: excellent at link-out play, highly-intelligent in his decisions, hard-working and equally able to provide and finish, the Frenchman looks perfect to play the centre-forward in the Spaniard’s formation or at least better than Eddie Nketiah, at this stage.
He might not be the 30-goals striker he was originally signed to be but has formed a great understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his style enables the Gabonese forward to dart inside from the left, while the former Lyon captain vacates the traditional centre-forward space.
Like Héctor Bellerín, Rob Holding, Dani Ceballos and Ainsley Maitland-Niles before him, Alexandre Lacazette has been written-off very quickly but, when fully fit and motivated, he still is a valuable asset for the team and virtually an automatic starter.
If we want to improve our league position and our European journey this season, we will need him. Alexandre Lacazette willingness to stay should be welcomed as a sign of big things to come, rather than a burden on our books.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.