As the transfer window rumour mill kicks into overdrive, many players will be the subject of speculation, hype and conjecture that a move to pastures new is on the horizon.
In a lot of cases it will be just that – pure gossip, but in some cases the transfer tittle-tattle will become a reality. One such case, it seems, is Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette.
The young striker slammed in 27 goals in 33 Ligue 1 games last term as he fired his side to second place in the table, and now the hunt for precocious 24-year-old is hotting up. A few Premier League sides are said to be very much in the race for his signature.
So what would Lacazette bring to the Premier League party, and where is his most likely destination?
Goals, Goals, Goals
That’s the only currency that strikers deal in really, and as a manager if you are going to spend £20 million plus on an attacker then you need to know that your man is going to deliver the ball into the net on a regular basis.
That seems a given with Lacazette who, as already mentioned, scored at a rate of 0.8 goals per game in Ligue 1 during the last campaign. That’s more than the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and that other much vaunted French talent Andre-Pierre Gignac.
His career tally is 57 goals in 151 appearances, and that’s not bad at all for a player who started his career primarily as a winger in the Thierry Henry mould.
You expect your centre forward to score goals – that’s a given – but in the modern game an ability to carve open the opposition and create chances for your team mates is highly sought after too.
Lacazette provided eight assists in addition to his own goals last season, and that’s down to his pace and willingness to run the channels. He does have that Henry-esque ability to pick the ball up in the old-fashioned ‘inside left’ channel and cause havoc.
In the modern game where so many teams deploy a lone striker, Lacazette can not only finish chances but also provide assists to those attacking players around him. That is an invaluable gift; and adds a few more digits to his likely transfer fee.
The one thing that any defender fears is genuine pace – particularly when it is allied with an ability to dribble the ball as if it’s glued to the foot and a desire to run in behind.
Lacazette possesses these attributes in abundance, and looks a natural finisher with either his right or left foot. His heading looks like it needs a bit of work, as does his hold-up play, but at 5ft 8in and 12st wet through those aren’t really the most important facets to his game.
Instead, it’s his ability to bring his team mates into the game with neat flicks and tricks that is most eye-catching, as is his devastating pace when running the channels. And a thing that will please managers in England is his willingness to put in the yards and track back – we love a hard worker in Blighty.
The only blot on his copybook is a lack of experience at the very top level. He has only featured in fleeting moments for the French national side, and is yet to taste Champions League football (unless he stays with Lyon during the 2015/16 season of course).
That could change with a move to one of Europe’s big boys.
So Lacazette has no shortage of admirers both in Europe and in England, and it will be interesting to see which club fires the first round in what is likely to be a lengthy and drawn-out transfer battle.
The Frenchman’s most likely home on English soil is Liverpool. If you look at Brendan Rodgers side from last season compared to that of a year prior you can see that they are crying out for a player of Lacazette’s ability.
Similar in stature to Luis Suarez, he could act as the figurehead whilst the likes of Raheem Sterling (should he stay) and Philippe Coutinho dovetail around him. And if Daniel Sturridge can get fit and stay that way, it really would be a mouth-watering proposition.
He wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter at Chelsea whilst Diego Costa is banging in the goals, nor at Manchester City where he would struggle to oust Sergio Aguero. Old Trafford is an option though, with Louis Van Gaal’s men crying out for a proven goalscorer after last year’s top marksman at the club was Wayne Rooney with 12.
Imagine Lacazette linking up with Rooney, Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay? That’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
As with any ongoing transfer saga, keep your eyes peeled and watch this space.