Wenger hoping Alexandre Lacazette transfers Ligue 1 goal record to Prem
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger has called on Alexandre Lacazette to match Zlatan Ibrahimovic by transferring his goalscoring record from France to England.
Lacazette will make his Premier League debut on Friday when Arsenal open the season at home against Leicester, and the former Lyon striker faces high expectations after netting at least 20 league goals per season over the past three campaigns in France.
Wenger has previously cautioned that Lacazette may need time to adjust to English football, but made it clear that he expects plenty of goals from the club's record signing.
"His record in France is to score one [every] 80 minutes. If he can maintain that record that would be ideal for us. As a game is 90, that would guarantee you a goal," Wenger said.
"Goal-scoring record is not necessarily transferable from the French league to the English league, that's for sure. But you could say that Ibrahimovic transferred an identical amount of goals from France to England. So that's the target Lacazette should set."
Ibrahimovic was Manchester United's leading scorer last season after his move from Paris Saint-Germain -- although his 28 goals in 46 appearances was actually well below his average in France, where he netted 156 goals in 180 games over four years.
Arsenal also pursued Lacazette last year before finally reaching a deal with Lyon this summer that could be worth up to £52 million.
Wenger admitted that he scouted the striker "for a long time" but said it's often difficult to convince players from the Lyon region to leave France.
"Lyon is a special place in France, as they have their own mentality. They don't like to move away usually," Wenger said. "They are players with a special mentality and I did not know whether he wanted to move or not."
Arsenal aren't the only team to strengthen their attacking options this window, though, as Manchester United signed Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea brought in Alvaro Morata, while Manchester City have a handful of new signings.
According to Wenger, that makes this Premier League one of the hardest ever to win.
"Yes. Because look at what City have done. They have been quite spectacular in the transfer market. Man United as well. And it's not finished," he said.
"Chelsea have bought Morata and have not lost Diego Costa yet. And they will certainly buy more. In the middle of the transfer market it's difficult to predict. At the moment the most active have been United, City and Liverpool a bit."
Arsenal have been pursuing Monaco's Thomas Lemar as well, but have yet to succeed in bringing the talented winger to the Emirates. Wenger reiterated that "we are still open" to more signings, but that the immediate priority is to trim his 33-man first-team squad before the transfer deadline.
And he said reports linking Arsenal to Leicester's Riyad Mahrez have been exaggerated.
"We were never close [to signing Mahrez]," he said. "I rate him as a player but we have similar types, with Alex Iwobi, Jack Wilshere back, and Mesut Ozil. We have plenty of the same type of players."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.