Welcome to the Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette!
Finally, we’ve got a striker who can finish, move around the box, link with teammates and – last but not least – take penalties.
It took a lot of time to finally find our man, with multiple high-profile targets – such as Luis Suárez and Gonzalo Higuaín – gone to other destinations when the deals looked complete.
I feel some scepticism around the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette as many perceive him as a second-choice but I have little doubts he will score goals, a lot of goals for us.
I really don’t get the negativity surrounding his arrival, I think that many of the arguments used to undermine his purchase are really lame, to be honest.
It is true that he’s behind Olivier Giroud in Didier Deschamps’ preferences but it has a lot to do with his football principles, more than Alexandre Lacazette himself; being the only player since Jean-Pierre Papin to score 20+ league goals in three consecutive seasons, he did his best to get a place in the French national team.
Anyway, I’m not here to talk about Alexandre Lacazette – not directly, at least.
If his arrival will undeniably have a major impact on the pitch, it will also generate a lot of questions off it, especially in the changing room; the former Lyon striker adds-up to an already well-stocked attacking unit: as we speak, we do have Alexis Sánchez, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Lucas Pérez and Danny Welbeck fighting for two places, which means some inevitable departures.
Who is going to leave?
The first name that springs to minds is Lucas Pérez, whose career at the Arsenal is all but over: the player did well when called upon but it is clear that Arsène Wenger never really counted on him – for reasons that remain obscure to the many.
The player and his agent have made it clear, they want more playing time and are actively looking for a Club that can guarantee it; Arsène Wenger surely won’t block his road and will try to get as much as possible for the former Deportivo La Coruña forward, who joined for £ 17m last summer.
One gone, then.
Who else is packing his bags?
A large chunk of supporters wouldn’t be against the sale of Theo Walcott, a player who has always divided the fan base since the age of 16: he’s quick and he can finish but doesn’t really offer much in terms of assists, build-up play and creativity.
I can see why some say that he is not worth the £ 130k-a-week wages he’s supposedly on, but his goalscoring record is quite remarkable and he finished last season with nineteen goals in all competition, compared to Olivier Giroud’s sixteen and Mesut Özil twelve.
If he goes, those goals would leave, too.
Same applies for Olivier Giroud, another man in quest of more minutes: mainly used as a super-sub, the former Montpellier has done very well but is getting more and more frustrated and could well be on his way out, unfortunately.
I hope he will stay and fight for his place but he might choose a safer option, especially with the World Cup coming next summer.
Why not Danny Welbeck, then?
Dat Guy has barely featured since he joined from Manchester United and shows serious limits in his game – his first touch, his finishing – but he’s never among those who could (or should) leave.
Of course his long-term injuries hampered the start of his career at the Arsenal but, at the age of 26, I would expect him to be a more of a finished product – not another player with great potential we will wait to flourish.
I don’t mean to sound harsh on him but I was expecting much more from Danny Welbeck: he’s tall and strong but also quick and powerful, he could be a nightmare to play against for any defender but regularly fails to deliver.
I appreciate is work-rate and dedication but we’re here to play football, at the end of the day; it’s not triathlon, it’s not athletics, it’s football and some of his misses were truly shocking for someone who featured for Manchester United, the Arsenal and England.
His ball control also isn’t at the level required at our Club, especially when we pass the ball around the box in search of a gap; he could be great on the counter attack and his pressing is just marvellous but it is not the football we are playing at the Emirates Stadium.
Shortly after he joined, I firmly believed he could be a 25+ goals-per-season striker but now I have some serious doubts he could be a top striking force.
Like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Jack Wilshere, he’s another player who could be great but just isn’t and we are still a romantic Club that will never give up on hope. I’m perfectly fine with that, as long as we keep it limited to two or three players, not half of the squad.
I know I’m being controversial here but Danny Welbeck got some advantage by being side-lined for a long time, somehow.
Don’t get me wrong, I wish he stayed fit and play more but the more he was out, the more he became a world beater in the eyes of many supporters.
It happens quite regularly at the Arsenal to see injured players slowly becoming better and better, their evident flaws disappearing.
It happened with Abou Diaby, with Eduardo, with Jack Wilshere, with Thomas Vermaelen and, more recently, with Gabriel and Danny Welbeck; they all looked like they could be our saviours, at some point, but all finally showed they could not – unfortunately.
Whether we were shaky at the back, disconnected in midfield or sterile upfront, none of these players had the qualities we were lacking; each of them had some of the skills we needed but none had it all and – most important – their flaws were there to be seen, despite our endless hope they would fade away.
As an example, Abou Diaby possessed the physical presence and change of pace we were in desperate need but was also tactically unreliable and had some serious troubles staying focused for 90 minutes.
We all do remember the amazing display at Anfield, when he bossed the game in a way that only Patrick Vieira (yes, I said it!) could; do you remember his infuriating cameo in the famous North London Derby ended in a 4-4 draw? Do you remember how he was introduced to keep the ball and add pack the midfield area, but couldn’t get arsed to track back? I do.
I can only recall three exceptions here: Tomas Rosicky, Robin van Persie and Santi Cazorla as their presence/absence really had an impact on how the whole team plays – others could only do the job on a good day, or soak into invisibility on a bad one.
The longest we stick to this kind of players, those would might eventually come good, the longest our raise to the top will take; we do have history of overindulgence towards players who were given ten, twenty, fifty chances for redemption and didn’t take a single one, it is time to gently change this.