Lacazette eyes gunners move

Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette (centre) takes on Ajax's Davy Klaassen after evading Bertrand Traore (right) in the Europa League semi-final last month. Arsenal are believed to be the front-runners in the race to sign the France international.
Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette (centre) takes on Ajax's Davy Klaassen after evading Bertrand Traore (right) in the Europa League semi-final last month. Arsenal are believed to be the front-runners in the race to sign the France international.PHOTO: REUTERS

Talks between Arsenal, Lyon raise hopes that Frenchman will be convinced by $77.5m offer

LONDON • Arsenal are hopeful of securing the highly rated France striker Alexandre Lacazette this week after lodging a club record bid worth £44 million (S$77.5 million) on Friday - a fee likely to prove acceptable to Lyon and spark a flurry of knock-on movement in the football transfer market.

A number of teams had registered an interest in Lacazette, who has 11 caps and is contracted to Lyon until 2019 after graduating through the French club's exceptional academy system.

The player had initially expressed a desire to join Atletico Madrid, having deemed the time right to further his career by departing Ligue 1, but the Spanish club's transfer ban, which stands until January next year, has complicated their pursuit and allowed Arsenal to steal a march on the 26-year-old's other suitors.

Lacazette is believed to be more open-minded now on the move after talks between officials from the London club and the Lyon president, Jean-Michel Aulas, last week, and agreement is close over the fee.

The deal would trump the £42.5 million potentially due to Real Madrid for Mesut Ozil, who signed in 2013.

The striker, who has scored a century of league goals for Lyon in 203 top-flight appearances, is eager to make his mark at club level before next year's World Cup Finals in Russia and is facing stiff competition within the France squad from talents such as Kylian Mbappe.

His arrival in London would have potential implications for his international team-mate Olivier Giroud and both Lyon and West Ham United are expected to try to tempt the Frenchman away, given that he would have fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates.

Giroud is thought to favour remaining in London.

Lacazette's move could also have implications for several other Arsenal players and may lead to the club finally opening negotiations with the outfits chasing Alexis Sanchez's signature, with Bayern Munich believed to be leading the way.

Arsenal are claiming that Sanchez will be held to the final year of his contract, but the Chile forward is determined to leave and if they can obtain a large fee from a European side they may reconsider and sell, particularly if they have already secured a high-calibre replacement like Lacazette.

Arsenal are pursuing a deal to sign Monaco's 21-year-old midfielder Thomas Lemar, but are increasingly resigned to missing out on his team-mate Mbappe.

Liverpool, though, are prepared to lead the bidding for Mbappe if they receive any encouragement from the teenage forward.

Real Madrid continue to court him, too, with manager Zinedine Zidane having spoken directly to Mbappe. The European champions boast the financial resources to close the deal, but Liverpool have registered their interest in Mbappe in an attempt to convince the player that his development would be best suited under Jurgen Klopp.

The Spanish newspaper Marca claimed on Thursday that Liverpool had a second offer of £87.7 million rebuffed by the French club.

Liverpool have not commented, but it is unlikely that the Anfield hierarchy would have sanctioned a bid unless they were sure that Mbappe wanted to join the club.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 25, 2017, with the headline 'Lacazette eyes gunners move'. Print Edition | Subscribe