On the Spot: Alexandre Lacazette

Every week at The Center Circle, we are highlighting a different player in a feature we call “On the Spot”. We’ll take a look at superstars, underrated gems, aging veterans, and young unknowns who should be known. We’ll peruse their club and international careers, taking note of their teams, statistics, and highlight reels. We’ll illuminate their strengths and weaknesses and comment on their personalities and reputations. It will be some fun. If there is anyone you want to see “On the Spot”, feel free to comment below.

Alexandre Lacazette

Lyon forward Lacazette

When the summer transfer window comes around, don’t be surprised if Alexandre Lacazette’s name is being tossed around the rumor mill. The French forward has quickly grown into one of the hottest strikers in Europe, and his reputation seems to grow with every passing season.

Forever Lyon

Alexandre Lacazette has only represented one club as a professional player: Olympique Lyon. The striker joined the storied French club’s youth ranks as a child and impressed many coaches in the reserve squads. Lacazette made his biggest splash for the lower teams during the 2009/10 campaign. While representing Lyon’s fourth division side in the CFA, the teenager found the back of the net 12 times in just 16 games. A breakthrough to the first team looked like just a matter of time.

During that 2009/10 season, Lacazette did manage to make a solitary appearance for the first team as a substitute late in the season. The following year, Lacazette’s role in the first team grew, but he was far from the first choice striker on the team. His first full year in Ligue 1 ended with just nine appearances, but he did manage to score his first professional goal against Sochaux.

The following year, a 21-year-old Lacazette finally started to make his stamp with the French giants. His second full campaign with the first team saw the striker make more than 40 appearances between all competitions for Lyon, and score career-high ten goals along the way. In addition to the personal landmarks reached during the 2011/12 season, Lacazette also claimed his first significant piece of silverware as Lyon won that year’s French Cup.

Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette

Image: AFP

Over the next two seasons, Lacazette began to grow into Lyon’s first choice striker and was consistently named in Rémi Garde’s starting 11s. After an initial adjustment period to the pressure of starting during the 2012/13 season where he scored just four times through 37 matches, the striker really came into his own in 2013/14. That season was by far his most successful as a professional up to that point as he scored 22 goals through all competitions and earned himself a place in the Ligue 1 team of the year.

Last year, the 24-year-old emerged as possibly the best striker in all of France. Not only did he finish as the top goal scorer in Ligue 1 with 27 tallies, but he was also named to the team of the year for the second straight season. The accolades didn’t stop there, however, as his magnificent season also earned him the crown of the league’s best player (essentially France’s MVP).

Rumor Mill

As expected, media outlets reported all summer that every big name club in Europe were interested in Lyon’s hottest striker. The likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid were the top candidates to sign Lacazette, but he had other plans. Late in the transfer window, Lacazette and Lyon agreed terms to a contract extension that would keep him at the club until 2019. Just a month later, the star striker told reporters how “hurt” he was by club president Jean-Michael Aulas’ behavior during negotiations. Could this bad blood expedite a potential transfer abroad?

So far this season, Lacazette has shown so signs of disillusionment with the club. Through 17 games, he’s scored seven times (best on the team) in the league, while also adding in another two during the team’s short lived Champions League run. The French club is currently in the midst of a severely disappointing run domestically as they sit all the way down at ninth in the table.

International Career

France's Alexandre Lacazette

Getty Images

After playing for essentially every youth team in the French National setup, Lacazette finally received a senior call-up in 2013. Since then, the Lyon striker has yet to compete in any major competitions for Les Bleus. To date, he’s registered ten caps and scored a solitary goal against Denmark in March 2015. Expect him to play a key role in France’s Euro 2016 run, especially if Karim Benzema is still suspended from the squad.

Style of Play

Alexandre Lacazette terrorizes defenders with a unique mix of strength and flair. Despite standing just 5′ 8″, the Frenchman’s low center of gravity makes it incredibly difficult for defenders to knock him off the ball. His diminutive size also allows him to float through the backline and his quick feet make him even more of a handful. Lacazette can score from just about anywhere in the general region of the 18-yard box. He can just as easily finesse a shot in from the edge of the area as he can knock one in from the nitty-gritty areas of the goalmouth, don’t expect too much from him in the air though.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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