Isaac Lundall Wednesday, 5 July 2017
The Arsenal yesterday announced the signing of 26 year old French international, Alexandre Lacazette, paying a club record transfer fee of in the order of £50 million. A winger turned striker, Lacazette can play either wide or through the middle. He is a proven goalscorer, scoring the second most goals in Ligue Un in France last season, behind Edison Cavani. He is also consistently prolific, having scored more than 20 league goals per season for Olympique Lyonnais for the past three seasons.
Lacazette's style of play is pacy and dynamic, with a high workrate with and without the ball, and his finishing is clinical. He therefore adds dymanism and goal threat to the Arsenal front line, and increases the options available to Le Prof, Arsene Wenger. The other side of this coin is an increased competition for places, and an inevitable lack of games for fringe squad members competing for a place in the Arsenal starting eleven.
Takuma Asano has been sent out on loan again, so the forward positions available in the starting eleven will be shared by Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck, Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Alex Iwobi, Alex Oxlade-Chambelaain, Chuba Akpom, Lucas Perez, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Joel Campbell, and Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Four slots need to be shared between 14 players. Cazorla will spend half the season out with an ankle injury, so let us say 13½ players. Either Wenger would need to implement extreme rotation, which would frustrate elite players like Alexis Sanchez, who want to play regularly, or squad players like Joel Campbell and Lucas Perez would get hardly any game time, which would be abysmally frustrating for professional athletes in their prime.
One solution to this overcrowding of attacking options would be to send less experienced players like Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom out on loan to lesser Premier League teams to gain some Premier League experience. Sending these two out on loan spells would trim the herd to 11½ players, which is slightly more manageable. Even so, players on the fringes of the team like Lucas Perez, Joel Campbell, or even Theo Walcott may find their position at the club untenable. These three in particular have a similar playing style to Alexandre Lacazette's, whose advent may signal the depature of one or more of them.
Anecdotally, competing in the Europa League has been deleterious to teams' chances of winning the Premier League, and for the past two seasons, the eventual Premier League champions have had no continental competiton to dilute their focus. With this in mind, Wenger could assemble disjoint squads to compete in the Premier League and Europa League. For example, Giroud, Alexis, Lacazette, Welbeck, Iwobi, Özil, and Wilshere/Cazorla could contest the Premier League, with Akpom, Chamberlain, Campbell, Perez, Ramsey, and Walcott contesting the Europa League. There could be some player crossover as demanded by form and fitness, and the toxic Thursday and Sunday cadence can be avoided in this way.
Whatever the manager decides, it is indeed a nice headache to have. Welcome to the Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette.