Alexandre Lacazette, the Lyon faithful. He can play on either wing or as a striker. He has started the Ligue 1 season perfectly and if he keeps it up top clubs will certainly be having a gander at this young French man.
Lacazette was born in the city of Lyon on the 28th of May 1991. A hometown boy, Lacazette was playing the youth team at the age of 16, and began training at the CentraTolaVolage, the club’s training centre. While in the training process, he was gaining a lot of attention from media and coaches as many considered him to be the rising star of French football.
At the age of 19, Lacazette was a European champion, scoring the winner in the final against Spain and claiming the u19 European Championship. Lacazette has represented all the French age groups, and with good form this season for Lyon he will be looking to impress Deschamps even more for the senior side. He has already received a call-up, but is yet to make his debut.
Lyon’s coaches first became aware of Lacazette’s potential in the 08-09 season as he aided Lyon’s CFA team into success and scored 5 goals in 19 matches. The next year, he improved on his record by obtaining 12 goals in 22 matches. He then earned his first full team debut, which was against Auxerre in May 2010. We next saw him in pre-season at the Emirates Cup and witnessed a very dedicated performance from him. His first goal in Lyon colours was against Sochaux in October 2010. Interestingly, he has scored more goals against Sochaux than any other club. He went on to score another that season in his second Champions League appearance, as he scored a late equaliser at home to Hapoel Tel-Aviv.
Lacazette is a big game player, and has helped his side out on many occasions. Scoring the winner against Spain in the u19 Euro Championship final ,on his Champions League debut when Lyon were losing 4-0 to Benfica, he was brought on and set up two goals and Lyon very nearly salvaged a draw from that match; he even scored 2 goals in a semi final in the Coupe de la Ligue and in the Coupe de France he replicated that.
Lacazette’s breakthrough year was the 2011-2012 Ligue 1 season, as he played 29 Ligue 1 games and 6 Champions League games, notching 6 goals in total. And thus, receiving a regular first team starter spot. The 2012-13 Ligue 1 season was a case of the ‘second season syndrome’ for the young winger as he failed to imitate the performances which gained him a first team spot in the first place. He only netted 4 goals and 3 assists in total. Through the backend of the the 12-13 season he was slowly picking up his previous form and has carried this into the 13-14 season. He has been playing in a relatively new position this season, but Lacazette has now been given the task of leading the line and plays in a lone striker role in a 4-2-3-1 with Grenier behind him in the pocket, young talented winger, Yassine Benzia on the right side of him and journeyman Yoann Gourcuff on the left side. It’s a role he has fitted in well with a great start to the season, including the first brace of his career on the opening day against Nice.
Style, Strengths and Weaknesses
Alexandre Lacazette has a lot to offer Lyon for years to come. He is an all-rounder, has an eye for a finish, is a fox in the box and a hard worker.
Lacazette is no slouch when it comes to closing down opposition defenders. He often does so intelligently. The amount of distance covered by a player isn’t as important as the amount of distance covered by him in sprints, and Lacazette is a player who seems to know this. He turns on the speed when a defender around him gets the ball, and presses the man ferociously. In their recent game against Sochaux, he executed 2 tackles, and both of them led to goals.
Lacazette is an accomplished finisher of the ball, he has scored some fine goals for Lyon over the past seasons, all types of goals. Long shots, volleys and finesses. He has an eye for goal and an extremely capable one-on-one finishing ability.
Lacazette can use both feet to great effect, in the modern game that is such a great tool and an advantage to any player, to be adept with both feet.
Lyon at the moment are a very exciting team to watch, and Lacazette is at the heart of this creative and attacking Lyon side and he adds flair to the team. He uses his guile and agility to skip past players and is very skillful on the ball and can leave defenders trailing with his box of tricks. The other benefit that this brings to Lyon is in the amount of free kicks he wins for his side, especially near the opposition box. Clement Grenier may have Lacazette to thank for a lot of his free kick goals!
His inter-play with some of the other attackers like Gourcuff, Grenier and Benzia is also very exciting, and adds synergy to Lyon’s play. He particularly has a good understanding with Clement Grenier (click here to read a Scout Report on him). He generally looks to be involved in one-twos, as it allows him to use his pace and understanding with his team-mates. He enjoys linking up with the other attackers, rather serve as a hold up player, because his education has been directed at achieving such a playing style.
This season, Lacazette has started as a lone striker, but switched positions with Benzia through the game. This may be an attempt on the part of Remi Garde to accommodate all his talented players. Either way, Lacazette spends most of his time in the strikers position. This means he needs to make certain changes to his running and positions from last season, when he played behind the striker.
Here is a perfect example of how manager, Remi Garde, has altered Lacazette’s position from last season. Below is his performance area against Bastia from the 2012/13 campaign.
With Lisandro Lopez’ sale to Al-Gharaffa in the Qatari Stars League, the onus is on young Alexandre Lacazette to lead the line for Lyon in the 2013/14 season. His positional change can be seen below, as he has shifted into a more centralised position and restricting from drifting wide too often.
A weakness of Lacazette’s is his overall aerial ability. He stands at 5 ft 9, which is pretty small this will let his game down as a lone striker given that Lyon tend to send a fair few aerial crosses in which they expect to be met by his head. Saying that, he does have a good spring on him which could certainly help in his development in this particular area.
Another thing that works in his favour as a striker who will look to attack in close conjunction with his midfielders is his touch. He has a very good first touch, and the ball rarely ever goes too far from him when he takes it. His close control is very good too, and he manages to keep the ball away from defenders. This is important as it allows him to retain the ball, and hold up better.
The other factor aiding his play as a striker, ahead of someone like Benzia, is his upper body strength. He has the ability to hold off defenders physically, adding to his value in the role of a forward. A BMI of 23.8 indicates that he’s well stocked here, and should be able to cope with the physical demands imposed on him by defenders.
He has incredible speed and quickness, useful for Lyon on the counter attack and open play. He can breakway from defenders fast and this is very important for a striker, especially in Ligue 1 as there are a fair few quick centre backs who are hard to escape from if you are more of a slower striker. But, there are no centre backs who can keep up with Lacazette once he gets going.
Over the past few years, Lacazette has gained interest from top tier clubs with none of the interest ending in concrete discussion. But clubs like Arsenal, Tottenham, Roma and Inter have reportedly shown interest according to various media outlets. Arsenal have been the most recent to be interested, as their need for a striker is becoming desperate and media are linking them to any striker in the world right now.
Alexandre Lacazette is under the same agency as another highly sought after youngster, Kurt Zouma, who currently plays for Saint Etienne. Safe to say that ‘Score Agencies’ are going to have their work cut out over the next few transfer windows.
It’s unlikely that Lacazette would currently move on or it would have to be a hefty fee to prize him away from the Stade de Gerland. Lyon have a bright future ahead , they play exciting football and could well challenge Monaco or PSG for the league. Lacazette seems really fitted into the Les Gones and it would surprise many to see him leave any time soon.
This article was written by @TheSanogoal
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