LYON, France (AP) — France striker Alexandre Lacazette is going back to Lyon.
The 31-year-old forward, who would have been out of contract with Arsenal at the end of this month, returned to the seven-time French champion on a three-year deal on Thursday.
Lacazette left Lyon in 2017 for a then club-record 60 million euros ($64 million) after joining the French league side at age 12. He played eight professional seasons with Lyon.
With Arsenal, Lacazette scored 71 goals in 206 appearances for the north London club. He made an instant impact in the English Premier League, scoring 94 seconds into his debut, and was Arsenal’s top scorer in two seasons. He lost his place to Eddie Nketiah over the final weeks of his last season.
Lacazette has 16 caps for France.
“Even without a European Cup to play, the project was more important than anything else,” Lacazette said. “I felt I could be useful in the dressing room and on the pitch, it was the best decision. It is moving to come back. I want to help the club to return to the top and qualify for Europe.”
Lyon, which struggled to an eighth-placed finish this season and won its last French league title in 2008, said Lacazette’s return was a priority over the last few months.
“This second signing of the offseason, which follows Remy Riou’s return to the club and the prolongation of Maxence Caqueret and Anthony Lopes, is proof that the club has great ambitions to instill a new dynamic around its men’s professional squad,” Lyon said in a statement.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said the offseason recruitment will be ambitious and confirmed he was trying to bring back another former player to the club, Corentin Tolisso. The midfielder is a free agent after his contract at Bayern Munich ran out.
Lacazette’s comeback was announced amid media reports that Foster Gillett, the son of former Liverpool owner George Gillett, has reached an agreement to become Lyon’s majority shareholder.
Gillett was a director at Liverpool during his father’s stint as part-owner with Tom Hicks, after they bought the club in 2007. According to L’Equipe newspaper, he has reached an agreement worth 600 million euros ($640 million) with Aulas, who has been running the club since 1987.
Aulas confirmed discussions between potential investors and current shareholders were going on but said there was no guarantee talks will be conclusive.