Mikel Arteta should hand Alexandre Lacazette a new contract amid rumours the Arsenal striker is a target for Newcastle United.
These are the thoughts of former Arsenal player turned pundit Paul Merson, who has called Lacazette invaluable but believes that his best role under Mikel Arteta is as a super-sub.
Merson’s comments come amongst speculation that the Frenchman could be on his way out of the Emirates, with newly rich Newcastle a possible destination.
Lacazette is out of contract at the end of the season, and if a new deal cannot be agreed it is likely Arteta will look to shift him on in January to ensure they don’t lose him for free.
As well as the Magpies, West Ham United, Roma, Inter Milan and AC Milan are all also reportedly interested in the forward, who has scored 68 goals in 176 appearances for the Gunners since signing from Lyon in 2017.
Failing to start any of Arsenal’s first eight league games of the season, the 30-year-old’s stay in North London looked to be over, but after coming off the bench to score a last-minute equaliser against Crystal Palace, he was named in the starting XI against Aston Villa on Friday night.
Although he failed to score, Lacazette was considered the Man of the Match in the 3-1 win over Villa, playing brilliantly in a No.10 role, and reminding Arteta that he still has much to give.
Writing in the Daily Star, Merson believes Lacazette’s recent contributions has earned him a contract extension but does not think that he is in the Gunners’ best team.
He wrote: “It must drive Mikel Arteta up the wall because he comes on the other night against Crystal Palace, and you think how is he not playing?
“He’s intelligent, he’s sharp, he’s lively. He gets involved. He’s not just a goalscorer he gets involved in the build-up.
“But the problem is he doesn’t do that when he starts. He wants to do the basics.
“Arteta will pulling his hair out, one hundred per cent. If you’re not playing, you’d like to think Lacazette would want to move on and get more minutes.
“But I look at it and I think that if he can come off the bench and do that on a consistent basis, you can’t let him go, because it’s priceless.
“If he can accept being a sub and coming on to change a game, I think Arsenal have got a fantastic player again.
“He can give them something off the bench and Arteta needs that. They’re struggling. If I’m the manager I’m keeping him.”