Alexandre Lacazette joined Arsenal to win trophies and play in the Champions League.
Three years on, Arsenal ’s No9 is still waiting on both counts which is why the FA Cup final has never been more important at this stage of his career.
Lacazette, who joined from Lyon for a then record £51m, admits it has been a “really frustrating” time and that this has been the most difficult season of his career.
But Lacazette believes Arsenal can carry on their proud FA Cup history – they have won the trophy a record 13 times – and securing European football is crucial.
Lacazette, 29, said: “I came to Arsenal to win trophies. Yes, it’s been really frustrating, but this is part of football. Nothing is ever easy and this is why I love this sport because you can learn from this and become a great man with these kinds of experiences.
“But obviously at the end you are a bit disappointed. So you just go forward to the next season to change this and to reach your targets. So obviously this time it’s a really big game for me and for Arsenal.
“We know Arsenal is the team that has won this cup the most, so even if the fans are not in the stadium we know they will be following us all over the world.
“European football is really important. It’s going to bring money to the club for the future. Players who have a lot of ambitions want to play in Europe and I think it will be easier to sign new players and to keep all the players in the group with the Europa League.”
Facing Chelsea in a final with Chelsea having already clinched a European place brings back all too familiar and painful memories from last year’s Europa League showdown in Baku when Arsenal were thrashed 4-1.
Arsenal missed out on winning the first trophy of Lacazette’s time at Arsenal but, more importantly, a place in the Champions League which was why he moved to the Emirates in the first place.
It is still a painful memory and one which Lacazette insists must drive them on this time. “I think that was Chelsea’s strength as they had nothing to play for and they had no pressure,” he said.
“So it will be the same this weekend but we have to just play our game and for 90 or more minutes think about the game and not put pressure on ourselves.
“Nobody was talking on the way home. It was a long flight. Really silenced. Maybe the worst flight I have ever had. But yes afterwards when you lose a final it is really hard to try to talk with someone or to laugh. Obviously everybody was disappointed.
“Hopefully for everyone who played will not forget the final last season. Everybody has to find their own motivation for this game.
“Whether that is to think about the past or the future, or whether it is just because they want to win this game. I don’t really care why they want to win. But normally everybody wants to win.”
Lacazette has formed a remarkable partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which is unusual because there is no rivalry between the pair, they are friends off the pitch and their understanding has been Arsenal’s saving grace in the last three seasons.
France striker Lacazette insists he is happy at Arsenal despite a lack of medals and the “stupid mistakes” which he says has cost them a place in the Champions League but also admits it is vital they keep hold of Aubameyang to be successful in the future.
He added: “I’m happy with my career because I played for Lyon, my club since I was a child. I played for Arsenal, my dream club in the UK. I’m still happy about my career but obviously I would love to win more trophies and this one can make me happier in my Arsenal journey.
“When Auba came everyone knows we had a good relationship together. We always talk about everything, not only about football but everything in life. He’s a good guy. That’s why between us it became really easy.
“I think it is obvious we need to keep him. He has scored 44 goals in the league in the past two seasons. He is our captain and everybody likes him. He has love from the fans.
“I think it is obvious Arsenal should keep him but after this it’s a conversation between him and the club and we are not involved about it.”
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