Despite that Liverpool hadn’t been linked to Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette this month, that hadn’t stopped hopeful fans from imagining that, behind the scenes, the club was hard at work securing the services of the 23-year-old French star. Given Lacazette has scored 21 goals in 22 games this year and appears on the verge of becoming one of Europe’s best strikers, it’s hard to blame them.
Plus, Liverpool had been rumoured to be interested in him over the summer, with reputable journalists claiming the club had inquired into acquiring him before moving on to Wilfried Bony and then Mario Balotelli, so it didn’t seem such a stretch to imagine they might try for him again. Only this time around there have been no whispers, even from the less reputable journalists, to suggest the club were looking at Lacazette.
Even if Liverpool weren’t involved, though, Lacazette’s future was still rumoured to be in doubt, with the player linked to Arsenal and Manchester City in recent weeks. Given Lyon’s history as a club happy to sell off its best young players for a healthy profit, it was easy to imagine Lacazette would end up somewhere new by the end of January, even if Liverpool seemed unlikely. Lyon’s president doesn’t share that opinion.
"I don’t think there will be any movement," Jean-Michel Aulas said when asked about the player’s future on beIN Sports, insisting that his club’s priorities have begun to change. "Our goal is to become a top European club in the next few years, and that’s why we don’t want to sell him. I spoke with Man City, but it was about other topics, not a transfer. There will be no departures this winter and I also think the same in the summer."
The influx of money into the Ligue 1 has improved its standing in Europe, and with Serie A continuing to trail Germany, England, and Spain in the UEFA coefficients, next season France will move into fifth spot closer to Italy than Italy are to Europe’s top three. Though Lyon hasn’t directly benefitted from the arrival of oil money at clubs like PSG and Monaco, it means that a top French club can now aspire to becoming a top European club.
It could turn out to be nothing more than bullish talk to placate Lyon’s fans, but taken at face value, Aulas believes his club are positioned to hold on to their top players and to turn a profit through European success rather than through selling those players off. Certainly their standing at the top of Ligue 1 today would seem to suggest that, regardless of any longer term plans, they wouldn’t be eager to sell this month.
For any Liverpool fan—and also Arsenal and City fans—holding out hope of a deal for Lacazette, it’s a blow to have it explicitly stated by the club’s president that the player won’t be moving on. Realistically, though, it’s hardly a surprise.