Last week I decided to focus on one half of Lyon’s dynamic duo in the shape of Nabil Fekir but this week I'm having a look at another influential figure and the other decisive factor in Lyon's recent revival in Alexandre Lacazette, the talented Frenchman who's catching the eye of Europe's biggest sides.
The striker scored a staggering 27 goals in 33 league appearances, a tally that resulted in him picking up the top scorer award for the season.
Lacazette was born and raised in Lyon and joined Lyon's academy at the age of 12 and played his way through the youth teams whilst also getting international recognition from France by playing at every youth level.
There has been a lot of reported interest in Lacazette this summer and it’s easy to see why. He is clever in possession, has the pace to beat a man and has fantastic agility. All these traits combined make him a nightmare for opposition defenders.
The quick, fluid attacking movement that Lyon manager Hubert Fournier adopts really brings the best out of his forward. It allows Lacazette to drift into space and expose gaps left by opposition defenders. His determination and work rate help him create space for himself also. He's tireless and intelligent.
Another major quality that Fournier has bought out in Lacazette is his hold up play. He has a sense of his teammates movement and has the ability to find them almost effortlessly with a perfectly weighted through ball. His hold up play and vision yielded six assists – a number not to be looked down upon for a striker.
He ended up creating 51 chances from open play. Throughout Ligue 1 - only two players created more chances.
Now you see why Lyon fans appreciate him so much, right?
He has a desire off the ball to win the ball back that we rarely see in modern day strikers. Once his team has been disposed you won’t see the Frenchman standing still. He closes opponents down showing fantastic energy and determination and regains possession with his strength a lot of the time. It's a feature of Lyon’s high pressing game that Lacazette has adopted effortlessly.
If you watch the 24-year-old closely, you’ll notice a repetitive theme in his finishing. An accurate finisher, the majority of his goals are low shots into the corners of the goal. He’s composed, clinical in and around the box, and is able to use both feet. Last season he had a shot accuracy of 67%, converting 34.6% of those chances.
Lacazette has all the qualities needed to be a world-class striker. The interesting thing is it wasn’t until two seasons ago that he got his break upfront. He was being deployed as a winger with Lyon exposing his pace down the wing to produce crosses and create chances.
Perhaps this is where he developed his intelligent precise passing and his fantastic work rate?
His manager Fournier is very keen to keep hold of his star striker. He said; “Of course some clubs are going to be attracted to the sort of player he is but he is under contract at Lyon and with all the different competitions we have this sea son with the Champions League and the domestic French cups, we obviously want to keep him at the club.”
After finishing second in Ligue 1, Champions League football beckons, as Lyon's boss highlighted. This will give Lyon and Lacazette the chance to prove themselves on the European stage against the best teams in Europe and could provide enough of a pull to keep him at the club for now.
It’s fair to say that Alexandre Lacazette was one of the best players in France, if not Europe last season. His development over the past three years has been a joy to watch and the maturity he plays with is something we rarely see in football. His determination on the pitch is admirable and he seems like a player with a good head on his shoulders. Should he continue to impress, Lyon might have to fend off some interest or, probably inevitably, sell him on for big bucks.
By Callum Read – @