How big a deal is new Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette?

"Almost on a par with players like Ronaldo or Messi" according to one Lyon hero, Alexandre Lacazette has left his home-town club to join fellow UEFA Europa League contenders Arsenal.

Alexandre Lacazette: Europe's most-wanted striker?
Alexandre Lacazette: Europe's most-wanted striker? ©AFP/Getty Images

Arsenal have made Alexandre Lacazette their second signing of the summer, agreeing what is believed to be a club-record fee with Lyon for the forward.

The French international, 26, averaged nearly a goal every other game for his home-town team, scoring 129 times in 275 outings in all competitions. UEFA.com looks at what makes him so special. 

The expert testimony
"Since being chosen to lead the Lyon attack, he knows the team relies heavily on him and, so far, he has been top class. The way he is playing puts him almost on a par with players like Ronaldo or Messi, except that when you play in France you get less media attention."
Sonny Anderson, former Lyon striker

"He has shown he can make the difference in big games and also take an important role in team play."
Bruno Génésio, Lyon coach

Lacazette celebrates a UEFA Europa League goal
Lacazette celebrates a UEFA Europa League goal©AFP/Getty Images

"Alex has shown confidence. There are a lot of players who are confident on any football pitch, but not many with as much talent as him – especially forwards."
Rémi Garde, former Lyon coach

"I have a lot of respect for Lyon – one of the biggest teams in France – but one day he will have to leave to take the next step. He has to. I know him – he will wait for the right time to do it."
Samuel Umtiti, Barcelona defender and former Lyon player

"Alex is, for us, what Zlatan Ibrahimović [was] for Paris. Give him an average pass, and you will get a goal or an assist in return."
Bernard Lacombe, special advisor to Lyon president Michel Aulas

A few of Lacazette's memorable goals
A few of Lacazette's memorable goals

The back story
• Of Guadeloupean origin, Lacazette was the fourth son of a footballing family from the Mermoz district of Lyon; his older brother Benoît played at a decent level and was a futsal coach, while cousin Romauld Lacazette is currently in Germany's second tier with Darmstadt.

• Like Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, Loïc Rémy, Florian Maurice and Ludovic Giuly, he is a product of the Lyon academy, signing up when he was 12. He was likened to the club's Brazilian ace Sonny Anderson as a youngster.

• Prolific at youth level, Lyon gave him his senior debut in May 2009 just before he scored France's winner in the final of the 2010 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.

The evidence
• Given time to settle in the first team, Lacazette has rewarded Lyon with a succession of prolific seasons, bagging 20 or more goals in all competitions for the last four campaigns.

• With 129 goals netted in 275 games, he is already – aged 26 – the fourth-highest scorer in the club's history after Fleury Di Nallo (222), Bernard Lacombe (149) and Serge Chiesa (134).

• Was named Ligue 1 player of 2015 by France's national players union having been the division's 27-goal top marksman in 2014/15. He eclipsed that total with 28 in 2016/17, but was outscored by Paris's 35-goal Edinson Cavani.

Jean-Pierre Papin in his Marseille pomp
Jean-Pierre Papin in his Marseille pomp©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

• Notched 28 Ligue 1 goals in 2016: the biggest haul for a French striker in a single calendar year since Jean-Pierre Papin got the same amount in 1991.

• With 15 UEFA club competition goals, he is fourth in Lyon's all-time European scorers rankings behind Juninho Pernambucano (18), Bafétimbi Gomis (17) and Sonny Anderson (16).

• Made his pitch for club-legend status on 8 November 2015 with a hat-trick against Saint-Étienne in the last-ever derby at Lyon's old Stade de Gerland. "It was the final Gerland derby and my first derby treble," he said. "That's a bit special."

The take-home quotes
"This summer I might take a breath of fresh air and try something different, always with the idea of progressing in football and as a person. I'm going to keep working, with the hope that good opportunities come along this summer."

Thierry Henry gave Lacazette advice
Thierry Henry gave Lacazette advice©Getty Images

"The team I join will have to play good football – passing the ball, not just hitting it from box to box. Not kick and rush. That would not work for me."

"Thierry Henry shook me and told me to keep pushing myself, something we tend to forget when we are young. It made an impression, of course. When a player like Thierry Henry speaks to you, you pay attention. I realised that being a great player is a full-time job."

"Could I win the Ballon d'Or one day? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. First I will try to leave my mark at my club. Then we'll see."

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