“We’re not going to be talking about any of that until the end of the season,” said Mikel Arteta on Friday morning after being asked about the future of Alexandre Lacazette.
His response was cryptic and suggested that Arsenal are undecided, with the Frenchman’s contract due to expire in the summer.
Now 30 years old, Lacazette is still able to contribute when on the pitch, but a new deal should be a cause for concern for the Gunners, who struggled to shift Mesut Ozil after agreeing to his contractual demands some years ago.
If Arsenal opt against retaining Lacazette beyond the end of the current campaign, which younger players could the club target to offer similar perks on the field?
Jonathan David (Lille OSC)
Jonathan David is almost certain to end up at one of the European behemoth clubs in the near future. The Canada international is fulfilling his potential with every passing year, and nothing has changed this season.
He’s just 21 years old but across each of the past three seasons, David has bagged a minimum of 12 league goals. He scored 12 non-penalty goals in his breakthrough campaign at Gent before scoring 18 the following year, and last season he found the net 13 times with Lille.
This season, he’s already scored seven non-penalty goals from 13 appearances, meaning that he’s likely to hit double figures once again this time around.
David has a low centre of gravity, his movement is strong and he’s quite two-footed, and he looks capable of offering similar perks to Lacazette – and more – for the next decade.
Of course, it would see Arsenal return to Lille to repeat their transfer trick of signing one of their forward talents – with Nicolas Pepe joining the Gunners in 2019.
Lucas Paqueta (Lyon)
Lucas Paqueta’s name emerged around one year before Arteta was appointed as Unai Emery’s replacement at the Emirates Stadium. He was a big prospect originating from Brazil, having bagged 10 goals for Flamengo as a 20-year-old.
His production was supported by his highlight reel. Paqueta is typically Brazilian when it comes to his expressive and inventive nature, but he was quiet at AC Milan scoring just one goal before switching to France.
Now aged 24, Pacqueta is experiencing his second season with Lyon and all looks very promising. He’s already scored five non-penalty goals while assisting two in all competitions this season, and his numbers across the board look off the chart.
Despite initially assuming the spotlight as a central midfielder, Paqueta has gradually been deployed further forward. This season, he’s played in different areas of the pitch which highlights his versatility, but he’s predominantly been deployed as a centre forward.