Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool all want him - but it was Arsene Wenger who got a first-hand look at 24-year-old Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette on Saturday afternoon.
The France international striker has been heavily linked with the Gunners, and was in action as GiveMeSport travelled to the Emirates Cup.
Sent on a scouting mission to run the rule over the Lyon man, what we saw was massively disappointing. Arsenal were rampant and Lyon were awful as the Gunners won 6-0. They were 4-0 up after 35 minutes and Lacazette had had barely a handful of kicks. It went downhill from there.
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So what did we make of him?
The first thing you notice - he’s short and squat, a bit like a French Wayne Rooney or Carlos Tevez. Wearing the Lyon number 10, he’s their undisputed focal point, and like Tevez he’s a pest.
He drops deep, hangs back offside, comes short and makes darting runs in behind. Like Giroud, he’s always involved in the build-up play, only he offers the option to stretch the defence vertically too.
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On 17 minutes his perfectly weighted back-heel set up Clinton N’Jie for the game’s first chance. It was squandered but Lacazette’s contribution was Champions League class. It was the best thing he did all day.
He’s not fast like Theo Walcott, instead he relies on explosiveness to open up small gaps. On several occasions Laurent Koscielny ran him down when the through ball was a little off.
The second half passed by with little action, Arsenal adding one more to their four from the first 45 minutes. In these circumstances it's unfair to be too judgemental.
The game passed Lacazette by like it did all of his teammates and on this evidence you’d be hard pressed to say he was worth half his reported asking price.
While it would be harsh to judge him purely on this showing, the glimpses of talent allied to his body of work from last season suggests that the French international is a player who would thrive in the Premier League.
But with Giroud in this form and Walcott in reserve, Wenger could rightly argue that there’s just no need to splash out on a forward.
Where’s he come from?
Now 24, Lacazette has been at Lyon since 2003. Compared by club coaches to Lyon legend Sonny Anderson, the young forward has 51 Ligue 1 goals in 129 appearances since making his debut in 2010.
In 2013 he made his debut for France, coming on for Arsenal forward Giroud in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Uruguay.
Could he be the man to replace Giroud?
Giroud is a talented striker, but many Arsenal fans (and possibly Wenger himself) believe he’s not got the quality to spearhead a Premier League title triumph.
Whether Lacazette has the ability to be that man is an equally perplexing question though. He was impressive last season, finishing as Ligue’s 1 top scorer with 27 goals - 38 per cent of Lyon’s total for the 2014/15 season.
Leading the line for Lyon is strong pedigree, but it’s not Premier League competition. Any top striker signing is expensive these days, and Lacazette has his own sky high valuation (reportedly €40m).
Giroud has got utility for the Gunners, his goal was off the shoulder and a little fortunate, but he’s still a very useful striker. He also set up Oxlade-Chamberlain’s second and his link-up play remains a strength. Wenger must think seriously about the affect a big-money addition would have on Giroud’s mentality.
Sometimes it is better to stick than to twist although Arsenal fans will obviously just want both.
The right fit?
For €40m Arsenal would be getting a top young forward in his prime, and an ideal compliment to the Gunners’ existing cabal of gifted creators.
Imagine Lacazette alongside Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez and Ramsey. With Petr Cech solidifying the back-line, Arsenal all of a sudden have a starting eleven to rival Chelsea and Manchester City - on their day perhaps even one to better both.
Where Wenger’s side struggle to match is in the strength-in-depth department - but with Walcott and potentially Giroud as alternative options to Lacazette, Wenger would have three vastly different options - pace, physique and penalty box guile. It's a tempting proposition.
On today's evidence, there will be little clamour to spend big on Lacazette.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Wenger said Arsenal would be 'open minded, but not in desperate need' of a new striker.
The options are limited and Lacazette is one of the most desirable forwards available. Arsenal fans would be foolish to right him off on this preseason game, but it serves as a warning that he would be no surefire solution either.
Arsenal need a proper striker alternative to Giroud. Walcott serves his purpose but he is not an out and out striker. He missed his one chance this evening. Lacazette is and proved it last season.
To stick or to twist, Wenger will be no wiser after today's game. But with Arsenal chiefs practically begging Wenger to spend, he would be a fine addition to an already impressive squad.
What did you make of Lacazette's performance today?
Have your say below!
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