Now that Alexandre Lacazette’s imminent exit from Arsenal is official, it’s safe to say the club’s ambitious near £200million transfer project has backfired in spectacular fashion.
Back in the summer of 2019, the Gunners broke their transfer record for the third time in two years as Nicolas Pepe completed a £72million move from Ligue 1 outfit Lille and there was a lot of excitement around this deal amongst the fanbase as he was viewed as the final piece in the jigsaw alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette as part of a front three that cost a combined total of £178.5million.
There was hope that this front three would put Arsenal in the conversation with Liverpool’s trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane or Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez with regards to having the best attack in the Premier League going into the 2019/20 campaign.
Just under three years on and they never lived up to the billing. The closest the trio came to clicking was during the successful FA Cup campaign after Mikel Arteta took charge as he used Aubameyang and Pepe as inverted wingers with the license to drive inside onto their stronger foot, whilst Lacazette often dropped deep to create space in behind.
But as the 2022 summer transfer window fast approaches, one can safely assume the project has been scrapped completely. This is because if one further deal is completed before the end of August then the aforementioned trio will all be at different clubs next season.
Of course, Aubameyang departed in January as he sealed a move to Barcelona after being stripped of the captaincy by Arteta following another ‘disciplinary breach’ last December and with Lacazette not having his best season in terms of goals, it’s no surprise Arsenal have decided to release him when his contract expires in June.
That leaves Pepe as the sole survivor, but for how long? Well, reports in Italy have recently claimed that he could be allowed to leave if the club’s asking price of £25million is met and football.london understands that the winger has instructed his agent to find him a new club.
Should the Ivory Coast international get his wish and join Aubameyang and Lacazette in leaving the club in the same calendar year then not only will this expensive project be considered a failure, but it would also mean the Gunners have to face up to a £178.5million rebuild to replace the trio.
Fortunately, it won’t be as expensive. In Bukayo Saka, Arteta already has his first-choice right-wing option and it’s between Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe on the opposite flank. This leaves the centre-forward role as the one remaining spot to fill and the Gunners have been linked with many ahead of the summer window.
From Gabriel Jesus – who could potentially also be an option out wide if he joins from Man City – to the likes of Tammy Abraham and Darwin Nunez, Arteta is effectively two deals away from completing an overhaul of Arsenal’s front three and the hope is that he can get the new one firing on all cylinders.