As his time in north London draws to a climatic end, Alex Lacazette is doing his utmost to go down in Arsenal folklore as one of the club’s most clinical strikers
The Frenchman has scored six goals in his last six appearances in all competitions, guiding the Gunners to a place in the Europa League semi-finals following their 4-0 win over Slavia Prague.
Lacazette, 29, was close to leaving last summer as the likes of Atletico Madrid and Roma scrambled for his signature, but no move materialised due to the lack of transfer funds available for either side.
There were 20 passed in the build up to Arsenal’s fourth goal which Lacazette finished off and it shows the ever-changing nature of football that he could miss a relatively easy chance in the first leg against Slavia, before going on to become the match winner in the Gunners’ next two games.
He may have not followed in Thierry Henry’s goalscoring footsteps but Lacazette made some big contributions to the club since arriving from Lyon in the summer of 2017.
football.london understands discussions have yet to take place over a new deal for the experienced frontman, with manager Mikel Arteta repeatedly stating that any talks will begin in the summer.
“We will talk in the summer and make a decision on what is going to happen,” said Arteta in January.
“We haven’t talked about anything relating to his contract. I’m delighted with the way he is performing, the goals he is scoring and the form and energy he is in at the moment. He needs to keep doing that.”
The Sinobo Stadium played host to a mauling on Thursday night, as Arsenal’s blend of youth and experience ensured the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe once again made influential contributions in and around Lacazette.
It’s evident that Laca produces better performances when he’s surrounded by runners around him. The likes of Nicolas Pepe and the aforementioned Saka help maximise his goalscoring instinct, compared to Willian who tends to slow Arsenal’s game down.
And it’s for that reason that Arteta may be tempted to offer him a one-year extension instead of selling him to another European club this summer.
Lacazette is now Arsenal’s top scorer with 17 goals across all competitions and looks full of confidence going into the most crucial chapter in Arsenal’s season.
“He’s got a contract with us,” Arteta said last month.
“He played really well the other week. It’s exactly what we demand him to do. “I’m really happy with him and the discussions about his contract will happen soon and we will see what happens.”
Lacazette himself insisted on the opening day of the season that he is enjoying life in north London, following reports that he could leave the club.
“I am really happy,” he said.
“It’s only the press that says I’m not happy. From the beginning I’ve said I am happy at Arsenal and I want to play and win titles. We won a title last month so I am happy with Arsenal.”
The Gunners have been boosted with the news that Folarin Balogun has signed a new long-term contract, after initially looking like he would leave upon the expiration of his contract this summer.
Balogun’s short cameo appearance on Thursday night is perhaps another clear indication from Arteta that he will be utilised in the first team from next season.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabriel Martinelli also the other available striking options and Eddie Nketiah’s future yet to be resolved, Arteta has a massive dilemma on his hands this summer which Lacazette is making more difficult for him with every goal he scores.