Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette’s Champions League U-turn serves as a warning to Mikel Arteta

Alexandre Lacazette left Arsenal on a free transfer to re-sign with Lyon, having failed to feature in the Champions League in any of his five seasons at the Emirates

Alexandre Lacazette
Alexandre Lacazette left Arsenal to return to his childhood club Lyon

Speaking in April, outgoing Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette declared his desire to join a club that would offer him Champions League football.

“I want to play in Europe, it’s been a long time since I played in the Champions League. I miss it,” the Frenchman told Canal Plus. His frustrations were valid, as the Gunners did not feature in the continent’s premier competition in any of his five seasons at the Emirates.

In fact, they were absent from European competition in any capacity during Lacazette’s last campaign in north London, marking the first time in 25 years that they failed to qualify. By contrast, he racked up 22 Champions League appearances during his time with boyhood club Lyon, to whom he has now returned on a free transfer when his contract with Arsenal expires.

The 31-year-old signed a three-year contract and said it was the “obvious” decision to make at this stage of his career, despite Lyon not competing in Europe next season. Peter Bosz’s side could only finish eighth in Ligue 1 last season and finished five points from a place in the Europa Conference League, let alone Champions League places.

Nevertheless, Lacazette insists he has joined an “ambitious” project. Speaking at his unveiling in Lyon on Thursday, he said: “Even without the European Cup, the club remains ambitious. I think I have improved in the game and in my leadership. I want to help the team.”

Lacazette had a lot going for him with the Gunners. He earned a high salary of £180,000 a week, was seen as an experienced foil to the club’s generation of exciting youngsters and was even handed the skipper’s armband after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was dismissed as captain. captain.

Alexandre Lacazette was unveiled as a Lyon player on Thursday

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Moreover, he only lost his place in the starting XI to Eddie Nketiah once it became increasingly clear that he wouldn’t be sticking around this summer. Nonetheless, Lacazette took a substantial pay cut to join a side that finished mid-table in the French top flight, which cannot satisfy their Champions League cravings.

Whether he’s been lured back to the club he joined as a 12-year-old or there’s more to it than meets the eye, it’s up to Arsenal to prove they can. also propose an “ambitious” project. Having narrowly missed out on a top four finish to local rivals Tottenham, the pressure is on Mikel Arteta and the Gunners chiefs to recruit wisely and lift the club to the top of European football – otherwise other more important players may soon follow. Lacazette’s advance.

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