Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah helped breathe new life into Arsenal’s top-four challenge on Thursday night.
In doing so, one of the strikers might just be one step closer to extending their stay in north London.
It’s no secret that the Frenchman’s five-year Arsenal deal – which he signed in the summer of 2017 upon his arrival from Lyon – expires at the end of the season and he has been free to talk with clubs outside of the Premier League since January with regards to signing a pre-contract agreement.
Whilst Lacazette is yet to announce his intentions, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has already made it clear that he wants to bring the striker back to the club this summer.
“We’ll do our best to sign Alexandre Lacazette in June,” he admitted.
Although, Aulas may not get his wish as there’s a chance the 30-year-old will still be an Arsenal player once the summer transfer window closes.
As things stand, Lacazette and Nketiah – along with Mohamed Elneny – are set to become free agents from July 1 unless one or both reach an agreement with the north London outfit to sign a new deal.
Interestingly Gunners manager Mikel Arteta recently addressed the contract situations at the club and revealed talks have been planned for the end of the season.
“There is a chance (Lacazette signs a new deal), but we have decisions to make on three or four players in regards to the summer,” Arteta told reporters. “Starting those conversations right now, I don’t think is the right way.
“We have spoken to all the players, what to expect, the freedom that they have because the contracts allow them to make any decisions, and with our position there.
“That’s what we are going to do. At the end of the season, we will sit down and decide what’s the best for all the parties.”
Those comments may represent a potential U-turn for both Lacazette and Nketiah as they have been expected to leave once their contracts expire and that’s despite the Gunners reportedly turning down offers for the former England U21 international during the January transfer window.
But with Arteta revealing there’s still a chance Lacazette could sign a new deal, a big decision will be made come May one way or another.
A decision made even easier following events against Wolves on Thursday night.
With Nketiah making an impact off the bench by assisting Nicolas Pepe’s equaliser and Lacazette playing a major role in Jose Sa’s own goal to help Arsenal seal last-gasp 2-1 win, naturally there has been a reaction on social media.
More so for Lacazette than Nketiah with Gunners legend Ray Parlour agreeing with the idea that the Frenchman should get a new deal – but only on one condition.
“Let’s hope they can do a deal with Lacazette because I’d love to see him stay at the club for another year,” he told talkSPORT. “It’s not going to be a big deal like Aubameyang or [Mesut] Ozil. He’s a grounded footballer who will probably take the same deal again.
“They still need to buy strikers, but he’s always good to have around the dressing room and it seems like the youngsters are learning from him.
“You’ve got to have the right balance, good youngsters and people who have been around the block.
To Parlour’s point, the reaction from the players when Lacazette forced an own goal from Sa once again shows how well-liked he is and his leadership skills could be useful next season as a youthful Arsenal squad develops.
Furthermore, a one-year extension for a player in the autumn of his career would show that technical director Edu and Arteta have learned their lesson regarding the Aubameyang situation.
But it was even more evident against Wolves that the 30-year-old should not be the first-choice option to lead the line if he was to stay on for another season.
In truth, it was a mixed night for Lacazette. He broke a personal record by registering eight attempts – the most in his Arsenal career – but has now gone eight games without a goal.
And if the north London outfit are to start challenging for the big trophies in the near future, they simply need an upgrade on Lacazette. Someone that offers just as much as the Frenchman when leading the line, but more importantly a striker than can score goals on a consistent basis.
As impressive as he was during a 20-minute cameo against Wolves, Nketiah isn’t the answer.
So keeping the Lacazette on for a further 12 months could be a wise decision by the Gunners, but only as long as he replaces Nketiah as the back-up option to a new striker next season.