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No better time for Arsenal, Liverpool or Man United to pounce on goal machine

first_img1 With Saturday’s Champions League final signalling the end of the domestic season, attention now turns to the transfer window.Unfortunately for Atletico Madrid, theirs will remain bolted shut until January, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to uphold their ban derailing summer plans to strengthen. The decision also brought to an abrupt end a saga that threatened to rumble on until deadline day. Once the news was announced, Antoine Griezmann confirmed that he would be staying with the club until next summer. The Frenchman was strongly linked with a move to Manchester United, yet with a deal dead in the water for another 12 months, targets have changed.This had wider implications than Griezmann’s potential Old Trafford move, as Atletico had his replacement ready. Alexandre Lacazette has established himself as one of Europe’s most prolific strikers and while interest in his signature had been high, Atletico had looked to have won the race to secure his services. Their transfer ban, then, complicates matters. Los Colchoneros can’t register new players until the turn of the year, meaning while they could sign Lacazette, he wouldn’t be available to play until January. As part of the ruling, Atletico can’t bring the striker to Madrid and then loan him back to Lyon either, an option that was dismissed by the French club’s president Jean-Michel Aulas.Having only recently earned his place back in the France national team, the last thing Lacazette would want to do is jeopardise his place in Didier Deschamps’ setup, particularly in a World Cup year. The 26-year-old seems to have his heart set on a move to the Spanish capital, yet failure to prove his striking credentials for the best part of six months would have huge implications on whether he makes the cut for Russia next year. Yet while a window closes for Atletico, another opens for teams across the continent. 28 league goals for Lyon last season was a hugely impressive return for a striker that has netted 20 or more goals in the last three Ligue 1 campaigns.It’s seen Premier League trio Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal enter the race for his signature, while Borussia Dortmund have been credited with an interest in the Lyon star.While he may been keen on a move to Madrid, the trio – among others – will chance their luck on luring the France star to their respective club and for good reason, too. While 10 of his 28 league goals were from the penalty spot, Lacazette has arguably outgrown Ligue 1 and is more than ready to take the next step in his footballing career. Indeed, of those who scored 10 or more goals in Europe’s top five leagues last season, only Max Kruse (36.6%) had a better conversion rate than Lacazette (33.3%).The impressive return has only lengthened the already long list of admirers and it’s no shock that teams are queueing up to capitalise on Atletico’s transfer ban to strike up a deal for the frontman. It isn’t just his goalscoring exploits that has attracted hefty interest in his signature, though. Lacazette is capable of playing on the shoulder of the last defender to capitalise on any long balls put over the top, maximising his searing pace to put opponents to the sword or by dropping deeper and waiting for his opportunity to break into the box to score. He may not be the most physically imposing striker, but he makes up for that with his speed, rapid train of thought and knack for being in the right place at the right time to hit the back of the net.This is all the more important considering Lacazette routinely plays the role of the lone frontman, a crucial aspect for any striker in the modern game. His speed over the ground means he can play with a partner, in a more traditional ‘big man, little man’ partnership, but he has honed his game enough to ensure that such an approach would be a Plan B rather than a Plan A. He isn’t merely just a poacher either, aiding in the build-up play to create for others. He averaged 1.9 key passes per 90 for Lyon last season and while he came away with just three assists, that says more about his teammates’ finishing than his ability to help others score, while a respectable 1.8 successful dribbles per 90 notes his willingness to carry the ball forward himself. A dribble success rate of 73.8% in Ligue 1 last season shows how difficult he is to stop once he gains a head of steam.He isn’t the traditional number nine by any stretch, but he’s able to occupy defenders in the final third and score the necessary goals for his club. Only Edinson Cavani (32) scored more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities than Lacazette (24) in Ligue 1 last season, so if a team creates the chances for him, it’s likely the Frenchman will score.One can expect a mad transfer scramble for Lacazette in the wake of Atletico’s transfer ban and even if he is set on a move to Madrid, there is no shortage of potential suitors for the frontman as the summer transfer window edges ever closer to opening. Alexandre Lacazette could leave Lyon this summer last_img

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