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    Thursday, 13 July 2017

    Who is better Lacazette vs Lukaku

    When it comes to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, Jose Mourinho cannot help himself. In the aftermath of Romelu Lukaku’s move to Manchester United, the Portuguese has cast doubt on whether Alexandre Lacazette has the quality to be a leading striker in the Premier League.
    The suggestion is that the former Chelsea manager’s old rival at the Emirates has spent a club record sum this summer on a player had already been offered but turned down.

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    A report from the Guardian , claims that Mourinho sent his scouts over to France to watch the 26-year-old in his final season with Lyon, only to decide he lacked the physical and mental attributes to play to the standard required from a centre-forward tasked with leading the line at United.
    Fans of the Gunners have responded as might have been expected from a set of supporters who have long since grown tired of Wenger’s arch-tormentor and his antics in the media but does his assessment of Lacazette and the inevitable comparisons with Lukaku hold weight?

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    Value for money

    According to BBC Sport, Arsenal paid Lyon an initial fee of £46.5 million for Lacazette that could rise to £52.6 million with add-ons. Lukaku, meanwhile, has moved from Everton to Manchester United for £75 million in a deal that could potentially come to be worth around £90 million, as reported by BBC Sport.
    What are the two clubs getting for their money? At 26, Lacazette has scored 130 goals for club and country across all competitions in 286 senior appearances spread over seven full seasons of senior football. Lukaku is 24 and has scored 165 goals in 374 games in all competitions, at club level and at international level, in eight full seasons.
    That amounts to 0.44 goals per game for the Belgian and 0.46 for the Frenchman, who is two years the United signing’s senior. Over the course of the last three seasons, Lacazette has scored 76 league goals for Lyon in 87 games. Lukaku has managed 53 in 110 league games for Everton, or 0.87 goals per game for the Arsenal striker against 0.48 for his rival.
    Over that same span of time, Lukaku has added 17 assists to his league tally; Lacazette pitching in with 12. That takes their rate of direct goal involvement per game up to 0.64 for Mourinho’s new No. 9, and 0.99 for the Frenchman. Remove penalties the figures dip to 0.64 for the former Lyon finisher while Lukaku comes out at 0.45.
    Potential is harder to quantify, and advocates for United’s big summer signing will claim his higher value takes into account what he will become, not just what he has already achieved, yet on the numbers that can be counted, Lacazette appears to offer his team the most bang for their buck.
    Round one: Lacazette wins

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    Tactical fit

    Here it gets interesting. Lacazette and Lukaku are both centre-forwards that can be considered as out-and-out goalscorers. Their focus is on beating defenders to score goals rather than necessarily holding the play up or dropping back to meddle in midfield. On the run, with their teams behind them threading through chances they play with the clarity of purpose and have a specific job to do.
    Yet there are differences in their approaches. For Lyon, Lacazette initially played out on the wing, but thrived when moved inside to play as the central striker and tends to focus on running beyond the last man, hanging off his marker’s shoulder to break free into space.
    By contrast, despite having always been fated to become a centre-forward, Lukaku has learned he can cause opponents even more pain as he drifts wide to bully full-backs or make a diagonal run to wrong-foot a defence and take the ball past a back line unbalanced by his angle of approach.
    They should be exactly what their respective teams are looking for. Lacazette will hang about in the opposition’s half waiting to latch onto the passes played into his path by the likes of Mesut Ozil while Lukaku’s movement should help to make United more unpredictable and dangerous as he crosses paths with Marcus Rashford to make the team less predictable in the final third.
    Round two: draw

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    Neither player is a slouch when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net. Conversion rates are notoriously volatile and a poor way of judging a player’s quality over an extended period of time, but even so Lacazette has been impressively solid at dispatching chances that come his way since he became a striker on a full-time basis.
    In 2014/15 he converted 34.6% of his chances, 23.3% the year after and last season reached 39.1%. He may well have been running hot, and that may not be sustainable, but plenty of footballers would still kill to turn 23.3% of their efforts into goals scored.
    Lukaku managed 13.2% in 2014/15, 20.9% the year after and 29.1% in his final season at Everton, and while that may read as a trend of continual improvement, there are no guarantees that it will keep rising. Again, conversion rates are highly variable. Just ask Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
    Round three: Lacazette wins
    Individual duels
    One of Mourinho’s key criticisms of Lacazette was over the Frenchman’s physical qualities. Despite standing at five-foot-nine, the 26-year-old is fairly stocky in his build, and hasn’t struggled to hold his own in Ligue 1 or in Europe.
    Lukaku effectively leaves his opponent eating dust, as he has tended to against Premier League opposition for Everton over the last three seasons.

    He scored four goals from counter-attacks last season, and 16 since August 2014. Lacazette has managed only six on the break over the last three seasons, scoring once from a so-called “fast break” in his final campaign in France.
    With the ball at his feet, he completed 48 take ons in 2016/17, or 1.79 per 90 minutes. Lukaku managed 63 – 1.74 per 90 – but won 136 aerial duels, 110 more than the France international, or 3.75 per 90 versus 0.90.
    Yet Lacazette does more to win the ball back in the final third. He’s no Roberto Firmino but he did win eight tackles inside or around the box last season to Lukaku’s two.
    Round four: Lukaku wins
    Big game impact
    The other major concern Mourinho had over Lacazette was his big game mentality. How does that stack up?
    In his six games against Marseille, Monaco, Nice and Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 last season, the Frenchman scored six out of six. Lukaku managed four in 10 versus the so-called big six of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
    Looking back over the last three seasons in these fixtures, Lacazette comes out with a record of 14 goals in 23 games, while Lukaku has eight in 40 – not including his spectacular strike against Chelsea in the FA Cup in 2016.
    What about Europe? The Champions League has not been a happy hunting ground for the Lyon striker. Prior to last season, he had never scored more than two goals in a single European campaign for the Ligue 1 club. In the knock out stages of the Europa League, however, he put away six goals in eight games, including two in a dramatic 3-1 win over Ajax in the semi-finals to miss out on facing United in Stockholm.
    Lukaku’s one and only European adventure for Everton saw him score eight goals in nine games in the Europa League in 2014/15, but despite Lacazette’s lack of Champions League record, the Frenchman takes this category for his greater impact in big games on the domestic front.
    In grudge matches they are far closer. Lukaku has five goals in 13 Merseyside derbies against Liverpool. Saint-Etienne are Lyon’s biggest rivals. Lacazette has five from 12 in those games, and for those doubting the quality of the competition in Ligue 1, consider this. The last three players to be named player of the year in the Premier League all hailed from the French top flight: Eden Hazard, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante.
    That’s not to say that with age and greater opportunities, such as playing in Uefa’s top competition for a club like United, the Belgian cannot come to overshadow the Arsenal man, however. He also has the added advantage of Premier League experience.

    Round five: Lacazette wins


    It’s close but Lacazette just about pips Lukaku when it comes to value for money right now, finishing ability and record in big games.
    Mourinho and Manchester United are unlikely to care. Lukaku looks to be exactly the sort of striker needed to force his way through defences at Old Trafford.
    A proper handful of a centre-forward. Tall, strong, with good movement and quick feet, he will focus on dominating defenders while the likes of Paul Pogba pick teams apart. No other central midfielder attempted more through balls in the Premier League last season.
    Lacazette is set to be less of a leading man for Arsenal and more of an extension of Mesut Ozil on the pitch, making sure the German’s creativity receives the finishing it deserves to pile on the goals.
    Playing on the platform that United can provide, Lukaku will be a true protagonist. Fans at Old Trafford and the Emirates should be happy with their teams’ business up front, regardless of the comparisons between the two players.

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