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Wenger urges record buy Lacazette to be his Zlatan on eve of the new season

Date Posted,August 10, 2017

Arsene Wenger has told Alexandre Lacazette to follow Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s example.

Wenger is ready to unleash his club-record £52million striker Lacazette on the Premier League in Friday night’s season-opener at home Leicester.

And the Arsenal boss has big expectations for his fellow Frenchman as he sets about ending the club’s 14-year wait for the Premier League title.

Wenger was convinced to shatter the Gunners’ transfer record to sign Lacazette after seeing him score 119 goals in 249 appearances for Lyon back home in France.

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Given the outlay, the 26-year-old will under pressure to bring that sort of prolific scoring form with him to England.

And after seeing Ibrahimovic shine in his debut Premier League campaign last season following a similar move from Ligue 1, Wenger reckons that is a target well within the Emirates new boy’s reach.

Swedish superstar Ibrahimovic emphatically answered doubts about whether he could score as freely in England as he had done in France at Manchester United last season, scoring 28 goals in 46 appearances after joining from Paris Saint-Germain.

And Wenger said: “With Lacazette, it’s simple. He is an intelligent player. We have a game backed on mobility and technique and I think he can integrate that well.

“After that, we get the efficiency. His record in France is to score one in 80 minutes. If he can maintain that record that would be ideal for us. As a game is in 90 that would guarantee you a goal.

“Goal-scoring record is not necessarily transferable from the French League to the English league, that’s for sure.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates his goal
Ibrahimovic plundered 156 goals in 180 games for PSG… (Image: Getty)
…then silenced doubters who thought he could not keep it up against England’s tougher defences (Image: Getty)

“But you could say that Ibrahimovic transferred an identical amount of goals from France to England. So that’s the target Lacazette should set.”

Wenger has kept an eye on Lacazette for years, but admitted having doubts over whether he could ever tempt him to leave France.

He said: “I know him for a long time. In France, you have Paris that produces maybe 60 or 70% of players. With the suburbs they go south and west.

“After Paris, you have Lyon, which is a special place in France as they have their own mentality. They don’t like to move away, usually.

Lacazette has more Ligue 1 goals than any other player over the past four years (Image: AFP/Getty)

“They produce their own players, the players who grew up around Lyon, like Fekir, Lacazette, Gonalons. They all stay in Lyon. They usually like to stay there. They are players with a special mentality and I did not know whether they wanted to move or not.

“Does he want to go abroad or not? It is a very specific French players at Lyon.”

Lacazette is one of two new Arsenal faces so far this summer, along with left-back Sead Kolasinac, a prized Bosman free agent who made a big, goal-scoring impression in Sunday’s Community Shield win over champions Chelsea.

Wenger said: “We are still open [for more signings]. But of course at the moment I have 33 players [in the squad] and it’s very difficult to manage, on a daily basis, such a high number.”

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Chelsea would love to have the same problem of a big squad and manager Antonio Conte hasn’t hidden his unhappiness about their lack of numbers.

But there was no sympathy from Wenger:

“Maybe, yes, he has the opposite problem. But if you look at the number of players on loan, they can call a few back.

“I have sympathy for him [Conte]. But do I feel sorry for Chelsea because they don’t have enough players? Then, no.”

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