Alexandre Lacazette is wanted back at Lyon when he hits free agency in the summer, with Arsenal unlikely to put the offer of a new contract to the 30-year-old France international.
The Gunners lured a proven performer away from Ligue 1 in the summer of 2017, but could leave a path clear for him to retrace those steps five years later.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has vowed to keep the door open for Lacazette, should he wish to return to his roots, with a player that previously hit 129 goals for the club in 275 appearances considered to be a more realistic target than Karim Benzema – another former favourite sparking exit talk at Real Madrid.
What has been said?
Aulas told reporters at the official unveiling of Tanguy Ndombele, following his return to Lyon on loan from Tottenham: “It’s Lacazette, he interests us because he marked this club.
“It’s a profile that interests us and we have always been in contact with him.
“This is part of the guiding ideas brought by (new sporting director) Bruno Cheyrou. In our context, yes it (Lacazette) is more accessible than Benzema.
“We have to try to see if we can do it as a free player but we will not be alone.”
What is the situation at Arsenal?Getty Images
The Gunners may have been expected to put up a fight when it comes to keeping a forward with 70 goals for the club on their books, especially as they are starting to see striking options dwindle.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had been frozen out following a breach of club discipline in December, was allowed to link up with La Liga giants Barcelona on deadline day of the January transfer window.
Arsenal are also preparing to part with England U-21 international Eddie Nketiah, with his contract running down ahead of the summer.
Mikel Arteta has attempted to steer around discussion of Lacazette’s plans in recent months, with the Spaniard claiming his future intentions will only be addressed at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
He has said: “There is so much talk.
“What I can say is that I’m really happy with what Laca is doing at the moment, and I’ve said that we are not going to be talking about any of that until the end of the season.”
A parting of ways does, however, appear to be on the cards as no extension is in the pipeline for an experienced French frontman.
GOAL view - Arsenal correspondent Charles Watts
“Lacazette’s departure from Arsenal in the summer now looks inevitable, with no contract offer on the table.
“Both he and Eddie Nketiah are out of contract in the summer and while Arsenal have been trying to convince Nketiah to sign a new deal, they have not been doing the same with Lacazette.
“Mikel Arteta wants to add two new strikers in the summer and getting the 30-year-old’s salary - believed to be around £180,000 a week - off the wage bill, will free up plenty of space to do that.
“Whenever questioned on Lacazette’s future, Arteta has consistently refused to be drawn on the subject, simply stating that it will be decided at the end of the season.
“But there is an acceptance that the former France international will be leaving north London to make way for new additions, with the likes of Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jonathan David all on the Gunners’ radar.”