Arsene Wenger has been told to cough up if he is to stand a chance of signing Alexandre Lacazette this summer.
French sports publishers L'Equipe, reported the recent rejection of Arsene Wenger's €35 million bid for the player from Lyon, and the Ligue 1 side have indicated that a bid in the region of €48 million, or around £40 million, would be sufficient to secure the signature of the popular forward.
While Arsene Wenger has long been lauded for his attacking free-flowing style of play, there have been some more sombre performances going forward during his tenure - periods with Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner as sole strikers have been particularly criticised.
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The recent squad appears to have no problems in that area though, with Olivier Giroud scoring almost one goal every two games last season for Arsenal (across all competitions), and receiving the Bronze Boot for being second highest scorer in Euro 2016.
With attacking support from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell, Danny Welbeck, and the emerging talents of Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom, many have been optimistic about Arsenal's potential up front.
However, looking at last season, they scored less goals than Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, a significant 16 home goals less than Manchester City, and only managed to put two more balls into the net than Liverpool.
Added to this are many sceptics voicing their opinion on the youngsters coming through, Arsenal's injury-proneness, and even of the manager's ability in what has always been in forte.
Regardless of opinion, Lacazette would be an excellent buy, and it was rather surprising that Chelsea recently coughed up £33 million to purchase Michy Batshuayi from Marseille at the beginning of the month.
Batshuayi has really only had one senior season to base any opinion on. During his final season at Standard Liege, he hit a one goal for two games average, however, doubts about the strength of the Belgian top tier were confirmed in his following year at Marseille, when he bagged only nine goals in 26 league games.
In the following year, his first season as a confirmed force up front, he struck 23 times for Marseille in all competitions, almost reaching a one-for-two average again.
However, Lacazette is entirely a different proposition. Only three years Batshuayi's senior, he has already notched up five years of significant appearances in the first team, and was last year's second highest scorer in the league, behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic - now at Manchester United.
In 2015, he was the top goalscorer by six goals in the league, which was impressive given the competition that year with Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Andre-Pierre Gignac, and the Ayew brothers.
That year he put away 31 goals in 40 games across all competitions, franking his talents internationally with appearances for France.
On the face of it, Batshuayi was significantly over-priced, and if you could secure Lacazette for a mere £7 million more, that starts to look comparatively like a bargain. Added to this, in terms of value, Lacazette will be a world quality striker one day, while Chelsea have spent £33 million on someone who will seemingly just take up space on the bench.
The other big twist is that, after 2015's high of being crowned top goalscorer, Lacazette himself ruled out transfers from many big names, including Arsenal and Chelsea. Instead it was widely reported that, having spent all seven years of his career in Lyon, he didn't want to leave the club.
However, at 25, and possibly about to reach the pinnacle of his development, Lyon have not managed to win a Ligue 1 title since 2008, before Lacazette was playing professionally, nor a domestic league trophy since 2012, and with Paris Saint-Germain stamping their dominance on the French football scene, there is not many signs of Lyon being able to supply any further development to what could be one of the greatest strikers in Europe.
Despite Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas saying it would be "malpractice" to allow Alexandre Lacazette to leave the club, in the landscape of the modern game, it is unlikely that the southern France team can repel approaches forever.
Lacazette has already secured his place in Lyon fans' hearts, and proved that he is a person of great morals and duty, by staying so long at his childhood club, but for his career, and perhaps for France, he needs to take a step forward now.
In five years we may be talking about him in the vein of Thierry Henry, he has that potential. However, if Arsenal stand a chance of securing the striker, Wenger will have to bid somewhere between £40-45 million.
The usually expenditure-averse manager has recently spent a similar sum on Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, both of whom have contributed significantly to Arsenal staying in the top four in the last two seasons.
Lacazette could bring even more season-changing attributes, and the sort of decisiveness and pace in front of goal that may lift Arsenal at a time when their peers are strengthening themselves.
Wenger's response to Lyon, however, was cryptic and uninspiring for Arsenal fans: “On the transfer front, I think the best is always to keep as secret as possible,” he said.
“If we sign somebody, we will announce it. But I cannot tell you much more on that.”
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