Arsenal have completed the club record signing of Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette, who has agreed a five-year contract with the Premier League club.
Having failed with an offer of around £39million last week, the Gunners have agreed to pay a fee of £52.7million for the 26-year-old France international. This eclipses the £42.5million previous club record, which was handed to Real Madrid for the signature of Mesut Ozil back in 2013.
Lacazette has spent his entire career to date at his hometown club, scoring 129 goals in 275 appearances in all competitions. But the striker clearly felt this was the right time in his career to move on, and he is delighted to link up with compatriot Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium.
“I am, of course, delighted and very proud too because Arsenal is a legendary club,” he told the official club website. “Throughout my childhood, thanks to Thierry Henry and other French players, I always dreamed of playing for this club so today that dream has been fulfilled.
“The fact that the manager has been here for a while shows that it is a stable club which I like. In addition there are quite a few French players here, which makes it easier to settle in. In my opinion, Arsenal is also the club that plays the best football in England so I really wanted to come here.”
This signing will be a huge tonic for Wenger, who endured some fierce criticism last season as his side fell out of the top-four for the first time since 1995-96. He has also been accused of being a tad too financially prudent in the past, but he feels Lacazette will be a shrewd acquisition.
“He has shown over a number of years that he can score goals and that he is a very efficient finisher,” he said. “As well, he has very interesting technical qualities and a strong character. So he is a guy who is a great addition for us, and someone who will help us challenge at the top level this season.”
Lacazette was all set to join Atletico Madrid earlier this summer, but the deal fell through when the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a transfer ban against the Spanish club. So instead, he will jet out to Australia with his new team-mates on Sunday as part of their preparation for the new season.
This deal is likely to end Arsenal’s interest in Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe, who has emerged as the hottest property in world football. The 18-year-old will also command a world record fee should he be transferred this summer, and Real Madrid are in pursuit of his £135million signature.
Wenger could still have luck in prising one star from the Stade Louis II, though, as he is expected to return with an improved offer for winger Thomas Lemar. An initial bid of £30million was rejected for the 21-year-old last week, but there is likely to be room for negotiation in the coming days.
The signing of Lacazette will also raise question marks over the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud. The latter has been widely linked with a move to Everton, but he has also been quoted as saying he is prepared to remain at the Emirates Stadium and fight for his place in the first team.
“I want to carry on my good journey at Arsenal and I always want to give my best,” Giroud told the official club website on Tuesday. “I would love to win another title, or maybe more until the end of my contract. The motivation is here, always doing your best to make your family proud.”
Manchester City continue to monitor the situation of Sanchez, who is now inside the final 12 months of his contract. Largely considered to be Arsenal’s best and most important player, Wenger remains eager to keep him but if he fails to agree terms, Pep Guardiola is prepared to offer £50million to sign him.
The Chile international recently suggested he had made his mind up about where he will be playing next season, although the final decision will ultimately come from the club, who could even decide to keep him for another year although they would mean losing him for nothing next summer.
Meanwhile, former Germany international and club legend Jens Lehmann has returned to Arsenal in a coaching role. The number one in the famous Invincibles campaign of 2003-04 will work alongside current goalkeeper coach Gerry Peyton, but will also coach the outfield players of the first team squad.