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Don’t give up on Alexandre Lacazette...yet

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Will a struggling, and now hurt, Lacazette be an Arsenal player next year?

2018 EPL Premier League Football Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal Feb 10th Photo by Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images

Alexandre Lacazette has had a rough few months. Since scoring against Manchester United on December 2nd, he’s only been on the scoresheet once in his last 13 appearances, 12 of which were starts. We all saw the chances he missed late in the game against Tottenham. Following the North London Derby, Arsene Wenger offered an explanation for Lacazette’s struggles, saying, “Maybe the confidence is not at its highest because he has seen a competitor coming in for him.”

In the meantime, he’s watched Arsenal sign a new striker for a club-record fee, just seven months after being the club-record signing himself. Then, to make matters worse, he’s been sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, removing his opportunity, for the time being, to recapture his form in the Europa League, especially with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied. That can’t feel good.

I find it hard to believe Lacazette would be at this level if he couldn’t handle a little bit of competition. I bet he’ll be fine in that respect. As Wenger also said, “he will score goals. He’s a goalscorer, he scored goals his whole career. He will score again.”

That being said, whether Arsenal should try to move on from Lacazette this summer is a worthwhile question. It’s great having depth, but Lacazette won’t settle for second choice for very long. But is he better than Aubameyang? I don’t think so. Lacazette is a good finisher, makes smart movements, and has also shown flashes of brilliance with the ball at his feet and his back to goal, but to my admittedly flawed eyes, there’s nothing he does that makes him stand out compared to Aubameyang.

For instance, Lacazette lacks the pace to break teams open, a trait this Arsenal team badly lacks, and now has in Aubameyang. This is not to blame Lacazette for Arsenal’s poor play for long stretches of this season. It’s not his fault Arsenal has often looked stagnant and congested this year. Yet, Aubameyang offers a respite from this that Lacazette can’t. If Wenger isn’t fully convinced with Lacazette, which, given the fact he spent £56m on Aubameyang, is likely, it would be wise to cash in and move on as soon as possible.

In a perfect world, you keep Lacazette. Having two good strikers is better than having one. Still, Lacazette will need to regain his scoring touch quickly when he returns in mid to late March. If he can’t, he will slip farther behind Aubameyang as Wenger’s first choice striker and possibly closer to the exit door.