Arsenal have confirmed that Alexandre Lacazette will leave the club at the end of his contract, amid reports he’ll rejoin former club Lyon.
Signed from the French side by Arsene Wenger for a then club-record fee of €53 million (rising to €60 million with add-ons), the France international made an instant impact, scoring after just 94 seconds of his Premier League debut against Leicester.
He ended his first season with a palatable 17 goals and bettered that in his second, when he scored 19 times, as he forged a close relationship with new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Lacazette’s efforts under Unai Emery in 2018/19 saw the fans vote him the club’s Player of the Season and for a time, it looked like he might pen a new long-term deal.
For whatever reason, negotiations didn’t progress as expected and as his form in front of goal stuttered, the club’s desire to keep him wavered.
All the same, as an experienced operator and reliable personality, the striker’s standing in the dressing room continued to strengthen, particularly after Mikel Arteta took charge.
His accession to the captaincy in the aftermath of Aubameyang’s January exit underlined the respect he commanded from his teammates but it didn’t hide the fact his threat in the box was on the wane. Goal droughts too often became the norm.
While talk of a short-term contract extension continued into the new year, Eddie Nketiah’s run of games at the tail-end of the season killed off the appetite for that and gave hope to Lyon that they could pull off a transfer coup.
Before joining Arsenal, Lacazette spent 14 years on the books at Lyon scoring 129 goals in 275 appearances. You can understand the lure of a romantic reunion.
He leaves having provided us with some very good memories, including a couple of cracking goals against Sp*rs, that Europa League free-kick at Napoli and the last-gasp, sort-of winner against Wolves this season. His CV is also burnished with an FA Cup and Community Shield.
Mikel Arteta says, “Laca has been a fantastic player for us. He’s been a real leader on and off the pitch and has been a very important influence to our younger players.
“His commitment with us has been exceptional and we wish him and his family success and happiness.”
While Lacazette himself said, “The club is taking a new direction and we are at the end of my contract as well. Now it is time for me to have a new experience, new adventure.
“For me it was a pleasure to play at a club I dreamed of when I was young.”
Best of luck for the future, Alex.