Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon
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Alexandre Lacazette: 5 things on Lyon's returning star

Publish on 16/06/2022 at 22:24

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Alexandre Lacazette has returned to Olympique Lyonnais after a five-year spell in England with Arsenal, but what else is there to know about the former France international striker?

Lacazette is a goal-fiend familiar to Ligue 1 Uber Eats followers, having scored more than a century of French top-flight goals before leaving Lyon for North London in 2017.

 

Now back with his hometown club, les Gones will be hopeful their academy graduate can help them improve upon their eighth-place finish from last season.

 

Ligue1.com brings you the Lacazette lowdown...


1) Like father, like Sonny

 

Born in Lyon on 28 May 1991, Lacazette hails from a footballing family. His elder brother Benoît played in the Swiss second tier, French fourth tier and was later a coach for Lyon's futsal club, while his cousin Romuald currently plies his trade down the divisions in Germany.

 

The Lacazettes originally hailed from Guadeloupe, and the young Alexandre - perhaps unsurprisingly - admired Thierry Henry growing up; a player he shared a heritage, playing position, and later a London club with.

 

Lacazette was part of the fabled Lyon youth academy from the age of seven, sharing an age group with Clément Grenier, and he made quick progress through the youth ranks. With his pace and power he was compared to Sonny Anderson, even by the Lyon great himself.

 

Sonny Anderson, Lyon

 

2) A Lyon superstar

 

It was only a matter of time before Lacazette was handed his first-team debut by the club, coming off the bench to replace Bafétimbi Gomis in a 2-1 league win over AJ Auxerre in early 2010, a month before his 19th birthday.

 

It was another two seasons before Lacazette was a fixture in the squad, and another three until he started the majority of games, but he was soon making up for lost time.

 

In the 2014/15 campaign, Lacazette was the top scorer in Ligue 1 Uber Eats with 27 goals - eight more than Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed for champions Paris Saint-Germain - as OL finished as runners-up. His haul was also two more than André Guy's single season club record which had stood for 46 years.

 

Voted the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year that year, Lacazette later scored a hat-trick against Lyon's bitter rivals AS Saint-Étienne in Le Derby, bagged the first goal at OL's new Groupama Stadium in 2016, and scored his 101st goal - overtaking club legend Juninho in OL's all-time list - before moving to Arsenal the summer of 2017.


3) ...and an Arsenal one too

 

Lacazette very nearly signed for Atletico Madrid after Lyon - the Spanish club unable to complete the transfer due to a two-window ban imposed by UEFA.

 

Instead, he moved to the Emirates for what was a then an Arsenal club record of £46.5 million/€53m - which was also the most Lyon had ever received for a player - and he wasted little time in endearing himself to the Gunners' faithful, scoring 94 seconds into his Premier League debut against Leicester.

 

Gérard Houllier soon described Lacazette as playing like Ian Wright, and whilst his fellow Frenchman might not have matched the Arsenal legend's seven goals in 14 appearances against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, he did become the first player since Emmanuel Adebayor in 2008 to score against them in three consecutive home league games when he helped his side to a 2-1 victory in March 2021.

 

After four consecutive double-digit seasons in terms of goals - and an FA Cup for good measure - things began to go South for Lacazette under Mikel Arteta last season, and the fact Lyon were able to bring him home under freedom of contract was too good an opportunity for them to turn down.

 

 

4) Shooting for the stars, landing in the clouds with France

 

Lacazette was a youth international star with France, his ability such that a career with Guadeloupe was never on the cards. He was first called up by Les Bluets at 15 and had made 58 appearances at all levels by the time he graduated from the under-21s in 2012, scoring 20 goals in the process.

 

They were important goals too. Lacazette scored the winner against a Spain team that included Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara - then of Barcelona - as France won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2010, heading home a Gaël Kakuta cross.

 

The next year France could only finish fourth at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but Lacazette nonetheless top scored with five goals.

 

A glittering senior international career seemed inevitable, especially given his electric form with Lyon, but Lacazette missed Didier Deschamps' squad for UEFA Euro 2016 on home turf, and he never seemed to be truly trusted in his four years with the team - on and off - between 2013 and 2017.

 

He scored his final goals - a brace - as France held then world champions Germany to a 2-2 draw in Cologne in November '17, but he hasn't been called up since.

 

Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette, France

 

5) Not the first kid to come home

 

Les Gones may no longer be the team that once dominated French football, winning every league title available between 2002 and 2008, but there seems to be something magnetic about the one-time Gaul capital and its still-prestigious football club.

 

Steed Malbranque was the first to play for Lyon in two separate spells since the turn of the millennium, the Belgium-born midfielder scoring 10 goals and lifting a Coupe de la Ligue title in 2001 after graduating from the academy. He spent the next 10 years in England, but added another nine goals and 14 assists for OL between 2012 and 2016.

 

Midfielder Tanguy Ndombélé returned on loan from Tottenham Hotspur last season, and Karim Benzema - a front-runner for this season's Ballon d'Or after starring with Real Madrid - has long since spoken of his desire to see out his career with Lyon.

 

Corentin Tolisso also happens to be available on a free after leaving Bayern Munich. Peter Bosz could do worse than getting the rest of the band back together...

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