Alexandre Lacazette has warned Arsenal that they stand no chance of signing him in the summer unless they qualify for the Champions League, leaving Arsene Wenger staring at the possibility of losing out on a long-term transfer target unless he can inspire his side to finish inside the top four.
Lacazette has interested Arsenal manager Wenger for a number of years, with the Lyon striker enjoying yet another goal-laden season, having scored 30 times already in 2016/17, following up his hauls of 22 last year and 31 in 2014/15. Arsenal saw an offer for Lacazette, believed to be worth £29m, rejected last summer, while West Ham also had a £43m bid knocked back.
Despite helping Lyon to the Europa League semi-finals – and just three games away from a guaranteed Champions League place if they win the competition – Lacazette has been vocal about his intentions to leave the French club, and he has now fanned the flames of which clubs he could join by making his desire for European football clear.
"[The team I will join] will have to be in the Champions League and play good football,” Lacazette said ahead of Lyon’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Ajax. “Passing the ball, not just hitting it from box to box. Not kick and rush. That would not work for me."
The 25-year-old has only won 10 caps for France given the talented options that national team manager Didier Deschamps has at his disposal, with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro, Kylian Mbappe and Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, and despite his fantastic haul of goals this season coming from just 39 matches, he was left out of Deschamps’ latest squad in March.
Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are also interested in Lacazette, with the Spanish side the current favourites to land his signature in the summer. Arsenal were leading the race this time last year, but their dramatic fall down the Premier League table this season – with the Gunners currently residing in sixth position and six points off the top four – leaves them exposed to missing out on the Champions League and subsequent statement signings like the one Lacazette would demonstrate.
Lyon are still hopeful of keeping Lacazette at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais for at least another season, given that he has two years left on his current contract.