Russian agent Dmitry Cheltsov claims Arsenal actively tried to offload Alexandre Lacazette in the summer and has been quoted as revealing exactly how much the Frenchman’s release clause is set at.
The France striker has been a big success since joining Arsenal in a then club-record £46.5m deal in summer 2017, scoring 38 goals in 91 appearances for the club.
However, he’s never truly established himself as guaranteed striker at Emirates Stadium, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang very much No 1 and Unai Emery trying different systems to accommodate both players as well as summer signing Nicolas Pepe.
But it will come as a surprise for Arsenal supporters at reading Cheltsov’s quotes after he claims he was instructed to try and broker a deal to take Lacazette to Zenit St Petersburg this summer.
“I offered Alexandre Lacazette to Zenit,” Cheltsov is quoted as telling Sport Business Gazeta. “Their sporting director Javier Ribalta said to me: ‘Are you crazy? His release clause is €68m [£61m].’
“I told him you can negotiate with Arsenal. I am sure they will be ready to accept something between €50m and €55m [£45m – £49.5m].
“His salary would be €7-8m [£6.3m – £7.2m] after tax.”
However, it’s not known whether Zenit actively explored the possibility of signing Lacazette from Arsenal, or indeed whether Arsenal did, in fact, look to cash in on the player.
And any chances Zenit had of landing the striker were ended when they instead landed another forward in the shape of Malcom, who arrived in an initial £36m deal from Barcelona.