Alexandre Lacazette says he can only blame himself for his mid-season goal drought, but after his knee operation he felt liberated and got back to his best.
Speaking to the French media in Wednesday’s L’Equipe, Lacazette agreed with his interviewer that the operation was the turning point in his season.
“Yes, clearly,” he said. “Before the operation, I was feeling pain but I told myself I could continue. I wasn’t playing well or scoring but I didn’t want to look for excuses. But then the knee locked and I couldn’t hope to finish season well and go to World Cup with a knee like that.
“[After the operation], as I had no more pain, I felt liberated. This break helped me to digest everything that happened in the last few months.”
Since the surgery, Lacazette has eight goals and an assist in 10 games, a more than respectable record. Compare that to before, when he went 10 games without scoring a single goal. The striker says it was unknown territory for him.
“It had never happened to me before,” he explained. “In the evening, I was walking home and I said to myself ‘come on, the next game, you can do it’, but I couldn’t.
“In fact, I only realised at the end of five or six matches. All of a sudden, I said to myself, ‘how long has it been since I scored?’ It was eating away at me. I couldn’t blame anyone else, it was only me. I couldn’t blame the coach, because he picked me, or my team-mates, because I had opportunities. It was only me.”
After the operation
Since the operation, everything has changed. Not just in the statistics mentioned above, but in Lacazette’s outlook on the game as a whole.
“After my operation, I started to score in every game, and everything comes back,” he admitted. “You get more involved in the game, your confidence is overflowing… During my injury, staff from the French National Team asked for updates, and that too made me happy.”
Now, it’s all about waiting for the call to see if his late run was enough to get him into the squad travelling to Russia.
Arguably Lacazette is the in-form French striker at the moment, but there are plenty of other talented options. Rising star Kylian Mbappe, Anthony Martial, Deschamps favourites Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, to name but a few.
The manager will reveal his squad on Thursday, May 17th, according to reports. Much as it would be nice to see Lacazette get a rest from an Arsenal point of view, I can’t help hoping he gets the call up he deserves.