Unfancied Lacazette at crossroads at Arsenal under Arteta

Alexandre Lacazette

Alex Lacazette is at a crossroads at Arsenal, it could be argued. The French striker went nine games without a goal for Mikel Arteta’s side and the head coach responded by drafting in young attacker Eddie Nketiah in his place. Lacazette managed to nab a goal from the bench when he came on late in the game during the 4-0 win over Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium a couple of weeks back — and he was in the mood again with the only goal of the game in the Gunners’ 1-0 win over Olympiakos in Greece last Thursday.

But, again, he was sitting on the bench when Arsenal took on Everton on Sunday, with Nketiah getting a start — and a goal in the 3-2 victory over the Toffees — ahead of the experienced goal-getter. So, it is understandable that questions are now being asked of the long-term prospects of the 28-year-old marksman’s future in north London.

That speculation has led to national media reports that Lacazette has a clause in his deal that means he can leave the Gunners if they fail to secure Champions League football ahead of next season. As it stands the odds are probably against this being the case, although winning the Europa League would offer Arteta’s men a place in Europe’s elite competition. If the French ace does choose to invoke the clause if the Gunners don’t get the spot they crave, it may well solve a headache for Arteta. if he is planning to offload Lacazette, this gives him the perfect excuse to do so and placate the fans at the same time.

Conversely, if he wants to retain the player’s services it should be noted that he still has two years left on his current contract. It is, we can safely say, finely poised. Lacazette is a quality striker, make no mistake. It is fair to say that he has been a huge success at Arsenal since he joined in a £52million deal from Lyon in 2017. He could, of course, go on and get a run of games, find his goal-scoring edge once more and go on to rattle in many, many goals for the Gunners as they chase a place in the Champions League, a taste of FA Cup glory and try to get their hands on the Europa League.

One thing seems sure; he will lead the line on Thursday night when the Gunners host Olympiakos in the second leg of the last 32 encounter at the Emirates Stadium. It could be the springboard he needs to reignite his season and convince Arteta that he is a better bet up front than Nketiah. Time will tell…

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