The latest news coming out of France as reported by the usually very reliable Mohamed Bouhafsi of RMC Sport, is that Arsenal have submitted a club record £44 million bid for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette. The bid has been supposedly accepted by Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and talks between the two clubs have been scheduled for next week in order to close the deal. This (potential) transfer has huge implications on the events at London Colney and a lot seems to be developing behind the scenes at Arsenal Football Club.
First and foremost, is the Mbappé issue. If this deal goes through, it will certainly re-affirm to even the most dreamy eyed optimistic fans of Arsenal that the future of the French prodigy lies far away from North London. The one exclusive thing Arsenal could have potentially provided Mbappé was a guaranteed role in the starting XI under the watchful eyes of Arsène Wenger, who could have turned him into a world class striker like he did with Henry and Anelka. However, if the Lacazette reports are true, that would surely void that guarantee.
Next in line is the contract situation and uncertainty around the futures of Ozil and Sanchez. Arsenal’s transfer window activity has somewhat been handicapped because of the situation with their star duo. It’s seemingly a deadlock: the pair probably want to judge Arsenal’s ambition through their performance in the transfer window before they commit to anything, and any potential top quality players would want to be sure about the future of Ozil and Sanchez before they pen a contract to join the Gunners. Will Ozil and Alexis Sanchez see Kolasinac and Lacazette as a step in the right direction? Will it be enough, or do they think the team requires more reinforcements? Only time will tell.
Arsenal have failed to properly replace Robin van Persie with a world class striker since his departure 6 years ago. Lacazette, while not in the same tier as prime RvP, is perhaps the most clinical out-and-out striker that the club could have purchased. While Giroud seems to have made the super sub role his very own, where does that leave Welbeck, Walcott and Wilshere with regards to minutes on the pitch? It doesn’t help that the forthcoming season leads right to the World Cup in Russia. Surely there’ll be a few tough calls to make for Wenger, but a healthy and stacked squad to choose from won’t be something he will complain about.
The question of what’s really going on behind the scenes becomes especially fascinating when one puts on a tin foil hat and refuses to buy the official narrative. It’s not hard to figure out that transfers like these at the highest level involve layers of immense complexities, and are shrouded in mystery, moreso with Arsenal. The club hates having its negotiations leaked, and is known for maintaining secrecy regarding potential transfer targets, as demonstrated with the signing of Ozil out of nowhere a few years back.
Could it then be even remotely possible that the Lacazette story is just a move by Arsenal to put pressure on Mbappe into making a decision sooner? Wenger wouldn’t want to be kept waiting till the last moment of the window to buy a striker the way he did in the past seasons with failed targets like Vardy, Higuain, and even Suarez to an extent? He must surely have learnt from the past seasons how the risk is not worth it.
One must remember that a whole bunch of Premier League clubs including Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United have been linked with Lacazette and are in the market for a striker. Quite a few seem to be a realistic destination for him. With the constant see-saw in the media regarding the stories of Mbappé to Arsenal and Madrid, this might potentially be a ploy by Arsenal to make Mbappe hurry up and decide where he wants to ply his trade next summer.
If he then decides on Arsenal, fantastic for them, they can call off the Lacazette negotiations, and if he doesn’t, then Arsenal make sure they get Lacazette and avoid losing out on him to their rivals. It will also put pressure on Ozil and Sanchez to make their decisions swiftly. One thing we can infer for sure though, is that Wenger is not messing around this time. The ‘Wenger-Out’ brigade seems to have finally managed to break him free of his spending shackles and inhibitions of the years gone by.