Reports linking Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette with Manchester United have started to appear but given that not many fans watch the French league, not much is known about him.
With that in mind, we had a chat with French journalist Jonathan Johnson who writes for ESPN and beIN SPORTS USA to discuss the 23-year-old and why he is so highly revered across Europe.
Hello Jonathan. Thanks for sitting down with The Peoples Person. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, my name is Jonathan and I am a French football journalist based in Paris. I live and work in the French capital and have lived here for a total of six year across two different spells. Ligue 1 and the French national team are my main areas of specialisation and I have been following le Championnat for over a decade now. You can find me on Twitter (@Jon_LeGossip) and there you will find links to all of my written work. I also work in television.
After an excellent 2013/2014 campaign, Lacazette has been exceptional in the 2014/2015 campaign. What do you believe has caused Lacazette to elevate his game in such a short time?
I believe that Lacazette’s continued explosion onto the scene is a result of the evolution of this Lyon side. While it is true that the player has individually improved between last season and now, he is also surrounded by a more mature team.
This current Lyon group has had the talent to be one of France’s top teams for some time now but it was a question of that talent maturing to produce a level of consistency that enabled them to compete for the title.
Thanks to the arrival of Hubert Fournier as coach and having another season of experience under their belt, this Lyon team has progressed and Lacazette epitomises that growth. His increased confidence after a fantastic goalscoring season (31 goals in all competitions, 27 in Ligue One) certainly contributed towards this.
What are Lacazette’s strengths and weaknesses?
Lacazette has a good eye for goal, with good finishing abilities and excellent technique. He is blessed with great pace and is versatile too, being able to play anywhere across the front line. He works hard up top and links up particularly well with the likes of Nabil Fekir, while he is also not afraid to put himself at the disposal of the team even though he is its talisman. He also has a good eye for key passes and assists.
If I was to say Lacazette has a weakness, it is perhaps his aerial ability. But even there, he is not too shabby. He could also use his left foot a little more.
I would say that he is well on his way to stamping one negative aspect out of his game already. The player had developed a bad habit of picking up unnecessary cards and although he has already somewhat addressed that this season, he has six yellow cards to his name.
My other observation is that Lacazette needs to translate his prolific club form onto the international stage but to do that, he needs to be given regular minutes and not just a few cameo appearances here and there. That will come in time.
“Lacazette is a complete player and perhaps the closest thing to Thierry Henry that we will see emerging from France for some time.”
What is his style of play?
As I mentioned earlier, Lacazette is a bit like Henry (even though he is no longer an active player). Like his senior fellow Frenchman, Lacazette possesses great pace and is a good all-rounder and capable of going it alone or functioning as part of a highly efficient team. Henry has also acted as something of a mentor to the player in his early years.
Lacazette has attracted interest from several top clubs across Europe. Although he is adamant he is enjoying life at Lyon, do you believe someone like Manchester United can snap him up this summer? If so, what kind of fee what Lyon demand for their young striker?
“I think that Manchester United could snap Lacazette up but it is completely up to the player to decide when he wants to leave.”
Listening to him speak, it seems as if he is prepared to stay in France until after the 2016 European Championships on home soil. The only thing that could change that is if Lyon receive an offer of crazy money from a European (or domestic) side capable of offering the player Champions League football and a place to take his game to the next level. By crazy money, I am talking upwards of €40m.
Strikers like Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud had impressive goal scoring records in Ligue 1. However, after arriving in England, they have failed to maintain such records. Do you believe Lacazette will have such a problem if he was to come to the Premier League?
I do not believe that Lacazette would have such a problem if he were to move to the Premier League.
He is an intelligent player, fast and a good all-rounder. His physical attributes might have to be worked on a little, with careful attention to not bulk up too much and lose his turn of pace, but nothing major would need to change. However, I do believe that Lacazette would benefit from one more prolific season in Ligue 1 after this before making such a move. I also think that the player needs to choose the right club in order to further his career and that does not necessarily mean moving to the Premier League.
Please fill in the blank: In the 2015/2016 season, Alexandre Lacazette will be playing for…?
Lyon. I think that if les Gones qualify automatically for the Champions League, which I believe they will, then Lacazette will stay to lead the team in Europe (possibly as captain if Maxime Gonalons is sold this summer). I believe that Lacazette will stay, enjoy another prolific season while gaining Champions league experience, while securing his place in the France squad for the Euros. After that, I think we will see him move abroad.
Thank you to Jonathan for taking his time to speak with us about Lacazette. Make sure you follow him on Twitter (@Jon_LeGossip)