Arsenal starts their transfer business early in the market this time, a somewhat departure from the norm for Arsene Wenger who often wait until the very end of the window and then decide to buy the leftovers.
The story is different now though, and Arsenal fans are delighted!
Following the free transfer of Sead Kolasinic from Schalke, Arsenal broke their own transfer record to buy Alexander Lacazette for £52m including add-on, by Arsenal standard that is a big deal, breaking the record fee paid for Ozil.
In a deal that seems to spell the end of Olivier Giroud’s Arsenal career, we think a fair comparison is needed between the two to know what Arsenal fans are getting in return for a potential Giroud departure.
Lacazette Scored 28 goals from 30 matches in 2016/2017 season for Lyon, 2nd highest top scorer in the French league with seven goals behind Cavani and ranked 19th in the entire Europe top scorer’s chart with 42 points.
The European ranking system is calculated in accordance with the assumed strength or competitiveness of the league; Spanish and Premiership are allocated 2 points per goal while French league is 1.5 per goal, thus on the table, Romelu Lukaku is ahead of Lacazette in 12th place with 50 points even though he scored 3 goals less.
Despite the European ranking system, he is still ahead of Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero, both joint 20th positions with 40 points.
Among the current Arsenal squad, only Sanchez ranked ahead of him in 16th place with 48 points after scoring 24goals.
GIROUD HEAD TO HEAD
Lacazette’s club performances in the last three years have been a phenomenon, returning 78% goal ratio in that time, this is nearly double Giroud’s goal ratio (44.6%), although Giroud played a significant number of games from the bench in this past season, following stiff competition in the Arsenal’s frontline.
The story is reversed in the national team where Giroud enjoyed far more game time and consequently more goals than Lacazette In the last three years.
At five years younger than Giroud, arriving at Arsenal at the time he is on top of his game, breaking the twenty league goal barrier a season in every of the last three seasons, throw in the astronomical valuations footballers are commanding these days, a £52m package minus wages sounds reasonable for one of the hottest property in European football right now.
Giroud on the other hand at 30 years is still commanding a market valuation of £25m which further justifies the financial outlay for Lacazette.
Giroud is not short of suitors himself, offers from West Ham, Everton and Marseille are apparently on the table, and on his day, he is a fantastic centre-forward. No one will forget his goal of the season against Crystal Palace.
Is Lacazette the answer?
Arsenal fans have been crying out for a world-class centre-forward for several seasons now, the arrival of Alexis Sanchez and his remarkable work rate and goal return have helped to keep Arsenal’s head above water, but he is not a natural centre-forward even though he has been deployed in this area to a great effect. Sanchez would probably have the same impacts in terms of goals and assists playing from the wings
Welbeck, a natural centre-forward with powers and aerial presence and often a menace to oppositions defence has a very low goal return for a striker, although, this is not helped by several injury layoffs since arriving from Manchester United.
Theo Walcott, even though he sees himself as a centre-forward, he does not have the consistency to lay a permanent claim to that position. There is also a conflict between his preferred position (centre-forward) and the manager’s choice (right wing), and having played for the club this long with no significant changes or improvement in his game, apart from flashes of brilliance in some matches, he cannot reliably be depended upon.
Wenger spent £17m to sign Lucas Perez last season, he does not seem to have enough confidence in him to give a proper run in the team, thus, the arrival of Lacazette could not have been better timed.
In April 2017, before changing to a 3-4-3 system, Wenger showed his frustration because of reliant of his team on long balls aimed at Giroud when he was on the pitch, a system Wenger does not favour, which resulted in Arsenal becoming very predictable and easy to defend against, the switch 3-4-3 immediately yielded the much-needed result with victory against Middlesbrough and Manchester City, and Arsenal then deployed this system for the remainder of the campaign, although failed to qualified for Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
Lacazette agility can only be a boost to this system, although Lyon FC preferred a 4-3-3 formation, Lacazette was used down the middle, the exact position he will be expected to play in a 3-4-3 line-up.
Although he is a single-footed striker, (right) but then not a lot of players use both legs, this does not seem to have limited him judging by is percentage goal return.
Arsenal will likely lose its aerial threat if Giroud leaves, this will, however, be compensated for by a more fluid frontline and possibly more goals and Welbeck will continue to play a role in the team.
Overall, we think Arsenal have finally addressed the issue of a centre forward and Lacazette look the real deal if precedent is used as a yardstick.
Everything may change if Alexis Sanchez leaves!