Name: Alexandre Lacazette
Date of Birth: 28/05/1991
Place of Birth: Lyon
Previous Clubs: Lyon | Arsenal
OL Debut: 05/05/2010 (Lyon 2-1 Auxerre)
Final OL Appearance:
Alexandre Lacazette is Lyon’s very own ‘captain, leader, legend’. A local boy who has gone on to be the second highest goalscorer in the club’s history and become a veritable talisman for them. He’s a pure goalscorer, a real fox-in-the-box and a finisher par excellence, with over 150 goals to his name in a Lyon shirt.
Lacazette’s love affair with Olympique Lyonnais began when he joined the club as a promising schoolboy striker and he soon rose through the ranks in the academy. Having progressed to the ‘B’ team in the Championnat de France Amateur, he impressed enough to earn a first team debut a few days before his nineteenth birthday at the tail end of the 2009-10 season.
He featured nine times in Ligue 1 the following season and registered his first goal for the club, before becoming a regular in the starting line-up for the 2011-12 campaign, which culminated in a Coupe de France win. He was to be a mainstay of the club’s front line for the coming six seasons, during which time he won the bulk of his sixteen caps for the French national team.
His personal peak probably came in the 2014-15 season when, aged 23, he was the top scorer in Ligue 1 with 27 goals and won the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year award as Lyon finished second in the table. He again bagged more than twenty Ligue 1 goals the following season and recorded a career high of 28 in the 2016-17 campaign prior to signing for Arsenal for an initial €53 million plus €7 million in potential add-ons. It was a record transfer fee received by Lyon, and a record fee paid by the London club at the time.
Lacazette enjoyed five full seasons in north London, although he wasn’t quite as prolific in the Premier League as he had been in Ligue 1. He was, however, voted Arsenal’s Player of the Season for 2018-19 and he picked up an FA Cup winner’s medal in 2020. By the end of his fifth season with the Gunners, his powers seemed to be on the wane and he was allowed to leave for free when his contract expired. Thus, aged 31, the path was clear for the prodigal son to return to his boyhood club.
It was almost as though he had never been away. He hit the ground running and found the net frequently throughout the 2022-23 campaign to end the season as the club’s top scorer with 27 Ligue 1 goals to his name, reproducing the sort of figures that he used to return in his pomp. He was only outdone by PSG’s Kylian Mbappé in the goalscoring charts.
Lacazette’s form was one of the few bright spots in a mediocre season for Lyon. Time and again his goals rescued them from difficult situations and it sometimes seemed as though he was carrying the team single-handedly, rarely more so than when his historic four-goal haul capped an unlikely comeback from 4-1 down at home to Montpellier to win 5-4 in May.
His experience has proved, and will continue to prove, invaluable in bringing out the best in the young teammates who are hoping to follow in his footsteps and it was noticeable how the likes of Bradley Barcola and Rayan Cherki benefitted from playing alongside him. Lacazette is the father figure they required to aid their development in their craft and there is no better master for Lyon’s next generation of apprentices.
At 32 going into the 2023-24 season, and with two years remaining on his contract, Lacazette still has a lot more to give to the club, so his story is far from over. If he can stay fit and play on for a few more season’s then Fleury di Nallo’s all time club goalscoring record may even come into his sights. Whatever else he achieves in the future, his status as a club legend is already assured.