Paul Merson says Arsenal should keep hold of Alexandre Lacazette as a "supersub" – despite suggesting manager Mikel Arteta will be pulling his hair out because of the Frenchman.
Lacazette, 30, is out of contract next summer and the Gunners must decide whether to give the striker a new deal, cash in on him in January or risk losing him for nothing at the end of the season.
The forward divides opinion among the club's supporters but has developed a reputation as something of a supersub, coming off the bench to score a last-gasp equaliser against Crystal Palace on Monday.
Arteta has stressed Lacazette still has a key role to play at the Emirates, and former Arsenal hero Merson agrees.
Writing in his Daily Star Sport column, Merson said: "Arsenal need to keep hold of Alexandre Lacazette – but only as a supersub.
"It must drive Mikel Arteta up the wall because he comes on the other night against Crystal Palace and you think how is he not playing.
"He's intelligent, he's sharp, he's lively. He gets involved. He's not just a goalscorer he gets involved in the build-up.
"Arsenal fans must wonder why he's not in the team. But the problem is he doesn't do that when he starts. He wants to do the basics.
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"Arteta will pulling his hair out, one hundred per cent. If you're not playing, you'd like to think Lacazette would want to move on and get more minutes.
"But I look at it and I think that if he can come off the bench and do that on a consistent basis, you can't let him go, because it's priceless.
"If he can accept being a sub and coming on to change a game I think Arsenal have got a fantastic player again.
"He can give them something off the bench and Arteta needs that. They're struggling. If I'm the manager I'm keeping him."
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Arteta reaffirmed his position on Lacazette during his pre-match press conference ahead of the match against Palace.
Asked whether the Frenchman could leave, Arteta replied: "No, we are focussing on getting the best out of Laca.
"He shows every day that his commitment is here.
"We just want to give him the right minutes so he can show his quality and help the team to be better."
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