Alexandre Lacazette is a man reborn. Having missed that je ne sais quoi for so long at Arsenal, a return to Lyon has quickly injected him with a scary dose of Va Va Voom once again.
Painfully associated as the marksman in one of the Gunners’ darkest hours, life at the top looked over for the mercurial Frenchman when Mikel Arteta decided it was time for new blood to lead the line in a rejuvenated Arsenal side, once again capable of mounting a title charge.
Upon leaving north London and returning to Lyon, Lacazette now resembled a shadow of the player who commanded a £46.5 million transfer fee back in the summer of 2017, looking ready to take the world by storm.
But it appears as though home comforts can unlock a new lease of life in the right player, with a now older and wiser Lacazette back in the white of his former club and firing them in mercilessly once again as he hunts down Ligue 1’s top scorer award.
His revival cannot mask the disappointment of an underwhelming Ligue 1 campaign as a whole for Lyon, who face an almighty scrap in the season’s final four games if they are to secure some kind of European football for next season.
It’s a huge personal boost for Lacazette, though, who has shown there is still plenty of life left in the old dog yet.
With four games to go, only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have scored more goals across Europe’s top five leagues, with Lacazette’s 24 strikes in Ligue 1 putting him level with Kylian Mbappe in the hunt for the Golden Boot award.
🎩 Alexandre Lacazette completes the SECOND hat-trick of the game, it's now 4-4 in Lyon!
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) May 7, 2023
Young mega star versus veteran of the game. He’s been to the pits of hell and back, and now he’s ready to make his next big ascent up the mountain. A return to superstardom.
Given his enigmatic nature, we can consider it football’s equivalent to the second Jeff Hardy world heavyweight title run that wrestling fans never got.
He set his stall out for the final run-in of the season with an absolutely ridiculous performance to single-handedly carry Les Gones to victory over Montpellier at the weekend. Not one goal, not a brace, not even a hat-trick. Four goals.
In the same game that Montpellier’s Elye Wahi produced a spectacular four-goal haul of his own to put Lyon 4-1 down after 55 minutes, Lacazette wasn’t having it. No chance. Had enough of being thrown to the side. It’s time to main event.
With the game now locked at 4-4 in injury time, Dejan Lovren bagging once also for Laurent Blanc’s side in a rampant, Lacazette-inspired comeback, the Frenchman stepped up.
Last kick of the game. Huge three points on the line. Lacazette fires it into the top corner, sending Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way. Thanks for coming, Wahi. You too, Montpellier. Safe journey home.
UNBELIEVEABLE SCENES! 🔥
Alexandre Lacazette bags his fourth goal with the last kick of the game to win an extraordinary 5-4 clash with Montpellier!! 🤩
They were 4-1 down… 😳 pic.twitter.com/8FTIMRYrwG
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 7, 2023
It was perhaps the culmination of a season’s worth of tireless work from the 31-year-old, who has been nothing short of imperious on a personal front, after years of looking completely off the mark in front of goal.
Born in Lyon, he joined the club aged 11, rising through the ranks and slowly blossoming into the club’s hometown hero over time.
Before he knew it, Lacazette was the prince of Lyon, the club’s latest crown jewel, being whisked away in 2017 by the Gunners, who were in desperate search of a way back to the top themselves.
Given their history with promising French forwards with tonnes of technical ability, they thought Lacazette was the man. And in a way, he was.
The forward consistently fired in goals for Arsenal in one of the club’s lowest points, providing them with an outlet and regularly getting near the 20-goal mark during a period where they were miles away from being a competitive side.
While Thierry Henry took to Highbury like a duck to water, right man, right place, right time, it just wasn’t quite meant to be for Lacazette and The Emirates. He’s home now, though, and still has plenty left in the tank.
“I hope my film isn’t finished,” He told Telefoot, insisting that he does not feel close to the end of his career.
The prince is back, the prodigal son has returned, and he’s on a warpath dethrone Ligue 1’s current young ruler in Mbappe.
After they finished eighth last season, Lacazette has given Lyon purpose in attack once again, while the club has held him tight and nudged him back towards his best. Some things are just meant to be.
Whatever happens in their final four games of the season will not dictate the resurgence of Lacazette in 2022-23. In fact, it only serves as the warm-up to a potentially even greater second season, where the local veteran fires a shaking giant back towards stability once again.
By Mitchell Wilks