Cadena COPE’s Antonio Ruiz dropped a bit of a bombshell on Monday night, as he reported that Atlético Madrid have reached a verbal agreement with Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette.
Oh, it’s lit. Well, maybe.
Lacazette was linked with a move to the Spanish capital last summer and has also been on Arsenal’s radar in the past, but Ruiz’ pretty detailed report seems to indicate that the seeds are very much sown for the 25-year-old to make his long-mooted, big-money move away from France.
Ruiz’ report (here, in Spanish) says Lacazette met with Atlético CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín at the latter’s home last month, where the forward and his camp are said to have given the thumbs-up to a summer move. Lacazette, the report states, was bowled over by his tour of A Stadium Called Wanda, and he received the vociferous backing of his compatriot Antoine Griezmann.
Lacazette’s verbal agreement comes with a couple caveats, however. First: there is no agreement with Lyon, just with their player. Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas said last month that he would not stop Lacazette from leaving the club, but he has been known to hold out for the highest possible transfer fee and is somewhat notorious for this strategy. Negotiations for his star player will not start below 40 million euros, as per the Ruiz report.
Second: the omnipresent transfer ban. Yes, it’s bolded, because it looms over every piece of business the club does and has done. But Atlético are said to be increasingly confident that it will be overturned and players will be able to come this summer, as is now the case with Real Madrid. A decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected by the end of April, which will or will not clear the biggest hurdle to signing Lacazette. If the ban remains in effect and both sides want this deal badly enough, Lacazette could still join, but he could not be registered to don red and white until January 2018.
If the ban is lifted, I don’t think Atlético will mind paying upwards possibly of 50 million euros to land a guy who is on his third consecutive season of 20+ goals; Lacazette has racked up an absurd 23 goals in 24 Ligue 1 outings this term, and he’s helped fire Lyon into the Europa League quarterfinals with a further three strikes in that competition (including this one). He has spent his entire career at Lyon and joined the club’s academy as a 12-year-old in 2003.