Alexandre Lacazette is one of the hottest strikers in Europe. Here’s a look at why he’d be ideal for Liverpool and why he’s yet to leave Lyon.
Just minutes into Lyon’s Europa League last 32 tie against Roma, the home side’s No.10 is closing down the opposition centre-backs, beckoning his teammates to support him.
It’s the type of player-led pressing Liverpool fans were used to seeing from Luis Suarez, who would often cut a disgruntled figure once he turned around to find his closest team-mate languishing on the halfway line.
These days Liverpool’s pressing is led by the manager, Jurgen Klopp, and as a result it’s much more organised and intense.
It’s because of this that the willingness to press shown by Lacazette in what was eventually a 4-2 win for his side has become a prerequisite for a Liverpool signing.
So now this important box is ticked, what else would the 25-year-old forward offer Liverpool if he were to end up at Anfield?
Lacazette has broken the 20-goal barrier in his last three seasons at Lyon, and in 2014/15 he was the league’s top goalscorer with 27 goals from 33 appearances. An average of 0.85 goals per 90 minutes.
This season he already has an impressive 30 goals in 39 appearances.
So far this season he’s scored the majority of his goals with his stronger right foot but has also displayed the ability to finish impressively on his weaker side, and also has a headed goal.
He can use his pace and his technique to find the back of the net, making clever runs in behind a defence to finish, or beating the keeper from further out via a crowded penalty area.
One weakness is perhaps his aerial strength, but his hold up play on the ground is impressive for a player who stands at just 5ft 9 (175cm).
Lyon play variations of a 4-3-3 formation which can include subtle changes in the midfield, sometimes leading to more of a 4-2-3-1.
Lacazette plays as the central striker in the front three, leading the line, running into channels, and being a general nuisance to opposition defenders.
He’s flanked and supported by a range of team-mates, including Nabil Fekir, Maxwel Cornet, Rachid Ghezzal, and more recently by the impressive Memphis Depay.
He’d have no problem fitting into the central forward role at Liverpool, whether this be in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Earlier in his career he also played in the attacking roles on the left or right flank.
Though he only has three assists so far this season, he has the second highest amount of chances created in the Lyon team with 41, behind Fekir who has 54. All of these came from short passes in and around the attacking third, rather than long balls or crosses.
He’ll look to carve opportunities for those flanking him if he’s unable to score himself, and back in his excellent 2014/15 season he managed nine assists in total.
He’s 25. Why hasn’t he moved yet?
The striker joined his hometown club aged 12 after being spotted playing for one of the city’s youth teams — Elan Sportif, now known as Club Sportif Lyon 8. He was courted by Lyon for some time before finally agreeing to join.
“My father waited as long as possible,” his older brother Benoit told Le Parisien newspaper in 2014. “ He wanted football to remain playful.”
His former coach at Elan, Ahmed Mansouri, says that the player shed a tear when presented with the shirt of his old youth team in 2011, and also described his former student as “one of those kids who has an innate ability with the ball.”
These emotional ties, and a willingness to be patient, are the reasons one of Europe’s best strikers has remained in the city of his birth, playing for his first and only professional club.
He’s linked with a move away from the club every summer, and questions are always asked as to why a move never materialises.
The easy answer is to say that the clubs monitoring him are never quite 100 percent sure of his qualities, but Lacazette’s loyalty is probably the bigger factor.
It’s a rare thing in football, but even when the star Frenchman does move, he’ll still remain loyal to Lyon in some sense but could easily become attached to a new club should he be reasonably successful there.
Many players who join Liverpool keep the club in their hearts long after they move on and this is now the closest thing you get to loyalty in modern football as players look to progress in their short playing career, and play at the top level.
He’s ready to move… to Liverpool?
Lacazette will go to a Champions League club, and he’s likely to be aiming high as he prises himself from his beloved Lyon.
Lyon need the money and it looks like they’re finally open to selling their star man and at least one other player.
French football expert Julien Laurens seems to think he’ll definitely leave the club this summer, commenting on BT Sport’s European Football Show that he gave a fairly conservative estimate of the player’s transfer value.
“They say ‘we have to balance the books’ so they need to sell,” said Laurens.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 26, 2017
He’d be perfect for a number of top teams, including the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City, but if Liverpool could pull this one off it could be the game-changing big transfer the club have been starved of.
Klopp’s side need to secure European qualification first, and then make sure they don’t lowball the selling club or the player with their offer, but if they want a striker to help take the side to the next level then Lacazette could be the man.
Given the quality and stature of the other teams who’ll be in the running to sign him, It would definitely be a coup if he were to end up at Liverpool, but it’s about time the club snared a few big talents.
If they can’t occasionally secure players of this ilk then they risk being left behind by the rest of the “big six”, who’ll be looking to add top stars to their own ranks this summer.