There has been no outpouring of love, no regret or sorrow that the France international is walking away from the club on a free – just a simple, almost clinical goodbye for a player that flattered to deceive for the majority of his time at the Emirates.
While Lacazette was by no means a bad player, he simply wasn’t the standard many expected the Gunners would be getting.
It would be disingenuous to pin Lacazette’s troubles purely down to the squad number he inherited in North London – but he is by no means the first Arsenal number nine to seriously struggle. With reports that his potential replacement Gabriel Jesus is on the verge of signing, many will hope the Brazilian avoids the ‘curse’ of the nine jersey.
Nicolas Anelka was the last Arsenal player to don the number nine shirt who truly shone for the Gunners. The nine players who have worn it since, for one reason or another, have failed to deliver on a consistent basis.
Davor Suker took the shirt off the aforementioned Frenchmen and lasted just one season in the first-team fold. Perhaps his defining moment for the club came in the form of missing his penalty during the shoot-out defeat by Galatasaray in the 2000 UEFA Cup final. He upped sticks to West Ham after nine months at Arsenal.
“Fox in the box” Francis Jeffers was the next player to wear the nine shirt, but he hardly fared much better. Plagued by injury, Jeffers was touted to become one of the most potent marksmen in the Premier League while at the Gunners, but ended up well down in the pecking order behind the likes of Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord.
The late Jose Antonio Reyes joined mid-way through the 2003/04 campaign and took the number nine. A tricky winger with bundles of pace, the Spaniard’s career got off to a bright enough start and Reyes even won the Premier League player of the month for August 2004.
However, reports of Reyes being homesick quickly spread and in turn started a cycle of relentless speculation touting him with a move back to Spain. He eventually got his wish, leaving Arsenal for the bright lights of Real Madrid on loan in 2006 before switching to city rivals Atletico on a permanent deal the season after.
As part of an agreement with Los Blancos over Reyes’ loan move, Arsenal received Brazilian striker Julio Baptista on a temporary basis in exchange. With that, the forward affectionately dubbed “the beast” inherited Reyes’ vacant squad number.
While he did memorably score four goals in one game against Liverpool during a 6-3 League Cup thriller, Baptista’s 10 goals across 35 appearances in all competitions was not enough to convince Arsene Wenger to sign him on a permanent basis and he returned to the Santiago Bernabeu.
The next in line for the number nine is a tragic tale, as the truth was Eduardo da Silva looked as if he was the one to finally break the number’s bad luck and shine for Arsenal. The Croatian international notched vital Premier League goals against Everton and Manchester City – before disaster struck.
Eduardo was the victim of a horrific ankle injury early on in a clash away at Birmingham back in February 2008. The Brazilian born striker was ruled out for nearly exactly a year, scuppering his Arsenal career entirely as he never looked the same after he returned from the treatment table.
Eduardo left Arsenal in 2010 and the number nine shirt would be left vacant for a year before it was given to Park Chu-Young after his arrival from Monaco. The South Korean international was undoubtedly the most underwhelming of all the players to feature in this line of nine’s.
Chu-Young made just seven appearances for the Gunners, netting once against Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup. He remained on the books of Arsenal for three years, but was sent out on loan to both Celta Vigo and Watford. His last Arsenal appearance came in October 2013.
Lukas Podolski actually took the number nine shirt off of Chu-Young while the South Korean was still at the club, such was the stature of the German international and World Cup winner. However, the reputation that proceeded Podolski failed to translate on the pitch.
The former Bayern Munich man will look back on his Arsenal career as one that provided a few moments of fleeting brilliance, but ultimately one that saw him fail to deliver on a consistent basis
Podolski was succeeded by another Lucas in Perez, but it felt as if the Spaniard was always up against it amid a backdrop of reports he was never truly wanted by Wenger. The current Cadiz CF forward was signed for Arsenal during a summer transfer window where it was clear Jamie Vardy was the preferred option in the eyes of the manager.
A Champions League hat-trick against FC Basel secured Perez’s place among some great players as one of the few to notch a treble for Arsenal in Europe, but he eventually left to make the short trip across London to West Ham who paid £5m for his services.
That brings us to the man of the hour, Lacazette who – despite all of his efforts, shortcomings were on display for all Arsenal fans to see for the bulk of his time under all three of Wenger, Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta.
Looking forward, Manchester City star Gabriel Jesus is currently being touted as the next man to lead Arsenal’s forward line. He may want to think long and hard before taking the most obvious shirt number available to him if he does put pen to paper in North London this summer.