Back in 2017, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all made big money signings in the centre-forward position, sparking debates over who had got the better deal.
United spent £75m to sign Romelu Lukaku, whilst Chelsea sunk £60m into Alvaro Morata. Arsenal had the cheapest deal at £46m (potentially rising to £52m), but they were also taking the biggest risk, signing from Lyon rather than Real Madrid or a Premier League club.
The debates on social media began, and they certainly didn’t die down when all three scored in their opening appearances for their new clubs. Two seasons later, let’s have a look at how things are going.
Morata has certainly been the worst buy of the three so far. After a hit-and-miss first season, the Spaniard started his second campaign so badly that Chelsea ended up sending him on a two-year loan to Atletico Madrid. In total, he scored 24 goals and assisted six for the Blues in over 70 appearances as their lone striker.
Lukaku started strongly, with 27 goals in his first season, but things have only been getting worse since then. His goalscoring has significantly dropped off (15 goals so far), his all-around performances have United fans turning on him and he’s yet to provide a single assist in the Premier League this season.
With Lukaku as their main man up front, United have already assured themselves a trophyless season and Europa League football next campaign. The striker has been particularly ineffective in the big games, without a goal against the big six in 2018/19.
Meanwhile, Alexandre Lacazette’s trajectory has been the reverse of Lukaku’s. The first half of his first season wasn’t particularly impressive, and he had to undergo mid-season knee surgery in February. Since his recovery, the striker has only been getting better.
This campaign, Lacazette has scored 19 goals, assisted 11, won one penalty leading to a goal, forced a couple of own goals, won Arsenal’s Player of the Season award and stepped up consistently in the big matches.
In games against Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Napoli and Valencia in 2018/19, Lacazette has seven goals and four assists, one goal contribution every 76 minutes. That’s not including the penalty he won against United. Manchester City are the one team that have caused him any problems.
More than just goals, Lacazette has shown a willingness to work for the team and constantly improving link-up play. He also boasts an excellent on-field relationship with 29-goal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, despite initial claims he might lose his spot in the team to the Gabonese international.
Lacazette is a big part of anything good at Arsenal right now, whilst Lukaku is one of the main problems Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to solve next season, and Morata isn’t even around with Chelsea anymore. Debate over.