Alexandre Lacazette sent a clear message to France manager Didier Deschamps with a stunning hat-trick at the weekend.
The Olympique Lyon forward was Ligue 1’s top scorer last year but was left out of the latest France squad, as he has struggled to find the net this season. That is until his side met rivals St. Etienne on Sunday.
The 24-year-old was a one-man goalscoring machine, bagging all three of Lyon’s goals, including a sumptuous lob to put his side in front.
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Goal scoring troubles
Lacazette’s early season performances are a far cry from the clinical goal scorer who notched a remarkable 27 goals in just 33 Ligue 1 matches last season.
His stellar performances and high goal scoring tally attracted attention from numerous big teams across Europe, including many Premier League sides.
In the absence of his goals, Lyon have relied on new signing Claudio Beauvue and Nabil Fekir for goals, both of whom have scored four times. Fekir’s season-ending injury has only heaped more pressure on the striker.
Les Blues snub
His poor club form has subsequently seen him lose his place in the latest France squad for games against Germany and England.
Bayern Munich youngster Kingsley Coman and former Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac have been called up in his absence. When announcing his squad, Deschamps was very blunt in his reasons for leaving him behind.
He said: “I know that when I don’t pick a player, it does not make him happy… I am following Alex’s performances. Today, they are not good enough, even when you put into the equation what he did last season. He is capable of doing much better. Today, his performances are not good enough.”
His words seem to have had an effect as just a few days later, Lacazette put in the type of performance which saw him make the international squad in the first place.
His match-winning performance in the Rhone Alps derby perhaps marks a major turning point in Lacazette’s season.
"I will never forget tonight,” Lacazette said after the win over St. Etienne.
"I had a good feeling personally and also collectively as we warmed up tonight. The fans were in great form, and when they're like that, it can only help us. I had the feeling that tonight was our night.
"It was like a dream; so many times I've dreamed about scoring a hat-trick in the derby at Gerland. But I never thought it would be in the last-ever derby here and that it would put us into the history books."
Despite the three-goal haul, there’s a long way to go if the 24-year-old is to resurrect his season. He has only found the net in three games this season, vastly different from the consistency he showed last year. The French striker hit 15 goals in 12 matches at the turn of the year, failing to score only twice as he hit top form.
But this is a good start. And more performances like the one on Sunday will see him sporting the blue of France again in the near future.
With the Euros on home soil in the summer and Lyon in serious danger of being knocked out of the Champions League, this year more than ever Lacazette needs to do what he does best – score goals.
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