With Arsenal reported to have lodged a £43million-bid for Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette, you have to wonder why we just didn’t wrap this deal up 12 months ago.
Money was not an issue for the club – the cash was available then just as it is now.
Nor were we late to the party in lodging a bid for the 26-year-old Frenchman. By all accounts Arsene Wenger was on the case from very early in last summer’s transfer window trying to secure his man.
Instead of getting the deal done, however, the situation was allowed to fester to the point that Lyon’s notoriously narky president, Jean-Michel Aulas, declared at last that his star man would not be leaving, under any circumstances.
Arsenal clearly irked the man to the point that he decided he no longer wanted the cash and was prepared to put principle above payday. It wouldn’t be the first time.
The Gunner’s plan A and B were therefore scuppered and we were forced into going for plan C – Lucas Perez – who, while clearly an extremely capable player, was never the man Wenger wanted. The scarcity with which he was used last season was testament to that. A real shame as I think Perez was much better than he was given chance to show.
Fast-forward 12 months – a period in which Lacazette bagged 37 goals in all competitions – and we are back at Mr Aulas’s door, with another £10million on last year’s bid and an apologetic smile.
While we stand a better chance of getting the deal done this time around, especially as Athletico Madrid seem to have been hit with a transfer ban for six months or so, we have, by our own dithering and indecision, missed out on dozens of goals that may, or may not, have salvaged a little more from our season.
None of us has a crystal ball, of course, and there was no guarantee that Lacazette, had he joined last summer, would have been quite so prolific as he has been in Ligue 1 last season, but it certainly would not have harmed our chances – that much we can say with certainty.
The number of players Arsene Wenger has missed out on simply because of a reluctance to part with the necessary cash, or to move quickly enough, has become the stuff of legend. It has become its very own fantasy football XI, and in a lot of cases Mr Wenger seems to have nobody to blame but himself.
It is crucially important, therefore, that we dither no more over the transfer of Lacazette. His talent seems beyond doubt now. If there were any reservations about him last summer, those must surely be gone after another excellent season up top.
Let’s strike now, pay the money that Lyon are asking and get a second signing completed and into the squad for pre-season.
There is no business quite like early summer transfer business – or so the saying goes – and getting a prolific goalscorer in the bag before July would be a real feather in our cap.
Our open flirtation with Kylian Mbappe may protract matters a little, I get that, but I don’t think we can afford to be led along while Mbappe waits for Real Madrid to make their inevitable swoop, only to find Lacazette has been snapped up by another willing suitor. We can’t leave this party without someone on our arm, and while I’m not saying we should settle for the ugly bird who is a bit game, I don’t think we should be wasting time chasing Jennifer Lawrence either.
Let’s let the Mbappe dream go and make the move for the not-quite-so-glamorous but just as capable Lacazette, lest we be left wondering yet again what might have been as another signing goes begging.
We have the money, we have the status, we have the framework for a strong season, now is the time for us to break the mould and be decisive.