LONDON — Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revealed he wanted to sign Alexandre Lacazette at Paris Saint-Germain, and has urged the striker to take his game to another level this season.
Lacazette has been in great form for the Gunners with five goals and three assists in his last seven games, helping Emery’s team go on a nine-game winning streak ahead of Monday’s Premier League meeting with Leicester.
Emery isn’t surprised by the French striker’s productivity, though, and said he felt Lacazette was good enough to be part of PSG’s high-powered attack when he took over the club in 2016 — but the complicated relationship between rivals PSG and Lyon made a deal impossible.
“The first year when I arrived in Paris, we were thinking about signing Lacazette. We liked his quality and his characteristics also at PSG. And all the people working there they said to us, this is the player [who has] the quality to play at PSG,” Emery said. “[But] he was playing at Olympique Lyon, and it’s not easy to sign one player from Olympique Lyon to Paris.”
Lacazette and fellow striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted two goals each in Arsenal’s last game, the 5-1 win over Fulham before the international break, and are enjoying a fruitful partnership under Emery.
Lacazette struggled at times to live up to his £46 million transfer fee after arriving at the Emirates last year, although that was partly down to a knee injury that needed surgery in February. While he seems to be back to his prolific best, Emery says he wants even more from the forward.
“For him last year was his first year in the Premier League, so a different league than the French,” Emery said. “He needs to continue his adaptation for us, for the Premier League. But I think this year we are looking at him [to take] one step more in this level. We are very happy [with him], but my message to him is: every day, don’t stop. Don’t stop in the training, don’t stop in the matches, carry on finding his best performance. But not [just] each match, each minute in the 90 minutes. And I think he’s doing that.”