Arsenal fans are an infamously difficult bunch to please. They’re probably the only set of supporters in world football who could greet a club-record signing with a shrug and mutter of disappointment that their new boy “isn’t Kylian Mbappe”.
In the interest of optimism, this handy guide should get Arsenal fans justifiably buzzing about their new frontman. Some might argue there are actually 37 reasons to be excited about Lacazette’s imminent arrival – after all, that’s how many goals he plundered for Lyon last term. However, we’ve narrowed it down to six causes to justify some jubilation…
1. Arsenal have kicked off their business early
Arsene Wenger appears to have learned his lesson from last season, when Arsenal were woefully underprepared for the opening day of the Premier League season. They went into the first fixture of the campaign without a recognised centre-forward, and with the inexperienced pair of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers at centre-half.
By the time the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez arrived to bulk up the squad, it was too late – Arsenal had already suffered a defeat to Liverpool that would prove costly in the final Premier League standings.
This year, Arsenal have acted fast to secure Lacazette and left-back Sead Kolasinac – two players who can immediately come in and improve their first team. There are still big dominos to fall in the transfer market: the likes of Alvaro Morata, Romelu Lukaku and the aforementioned Mbappe could all yet be on the move.
However, Wenger has ignored the temptation to wait it out, moving swiftly to complete a deal and ensure Arsenal’s recruitment drive gets off to a good start.
2. It’s a bargain
According to Lyon’s owner and chairman, Jean-Michel Aulas, the fee Arsenal have paid for Lacazette has been greatly exaggerated by the British press. He told French outlet Le Progres: “The figure reported by the English media of around €67m (including €12m in add-ons) is impossible and not realistic. Arsenal’s first offer was around €45m, the transfer will be concluded in the range of €45m to €50m. It constitutes, without doubt, a record transfer fee for Arsenal, and for Lyon of course.”
It might be a record transfer fee, but if Aulas is correct then Arsenal will only pay around £1m more than the £42.5m they shelled out for Mesut Ozil back in 2013. In the current market – and given Aulas’ proclivity for driving the price up – Arsenal have got themselves a very good deal. Given the exorbitant sums demanded to land the likes of Morata and Lukaku, Lacazette is a snip.
3. He has proved himself
Some supporters have wondered why, given that Lacazette has been scoring goals regularly for several seasons now, Wenger did not move to buy him before.
However, perhaps he was merely waiting to see if Lacazette could demonstrate consistency. When he broke through at Lyon, there might have been concern that he was a mere one-season wonder. In a similar fashion to Harry Kane on these shores, Lacazette has spent the subsequent years dispelling those suggestions in spectacular fashion.
For all the excitement over Mbappe, he’s still an 18-year-old who has only been playing regular first-team football since February. At 26, Lacazette is an established and proven goalscorer, ready to hit the ground running. Wenger might have gambled on the boy wonder. Instead, he’s bought a man who will be determined to make an instant impact.
4. He’s ready for the move
Another reason for the delay in Lacazette’s arrival in the Premier League is that the player himself was never in any great hurry to leave Lyon. He’s spent his entire career to date with one club, and it’s only this summer that he’s felt inclined to push for a move.
Part of the reason he stayed at Lyon was to represent the club of his heart in their new stadium, which finally opened in January 2016. However, there were other targets: Lacazette also wanted to reach a century of league goals for Lyon, which he managed in what looks like being his final appearance for the club against Nice.
He departs as the fourth-highest goalscorer in the club’s history. That kind of loyalty and dedication is no bad thing. Lacazette has done what he set out to achieve, and is ready for a new challenge.
5. He’s an ideal foil for Mesut Ozil
It’s criminal that it’s taken Arsenal four years to sign a striker suited to playing in front of Ozil. The German is at his best when deployed behind a pacy goalscorer, and yet Wenger has not taken the plunge on a top-class finisher to give Arsenal a necessary cutting edge.
Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck have both flirted with seizing the central striking berth, but the former lacked intelligence and the latter didn’t have the desired ruthlessness in front of goal.
Lacazette looks like the perfect forward to race onto Ozil’s penetrative passes. He has the acceleration to race away from defenders, and the composure to punish them for failing to keep pace.
While doubts persist over the future of Alexis Sanchez, it appears Ozil is staying. Lacazette’s arrival may be just what’s needed to get the best out of the mercurial German.
6. It’s the end of Olivier Giroud
While Arsenal fans will miss Giroud’s handsome features and heading prowess, his probable departure from the club represents a necessary evolutionary step for Arsenal.
Even if the 30-year-old eventually stays at the club, Lacazette’s arrival confirms his status as a squad player. Arsenal’s days of relying on Giroud are over.