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Lacazette confirms he’ll leave Lyon, hopes to join Atletico Madrid

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Alexandre Lacazette has been “leaving” Lyon for what feels like about five years now, having been constantly linked to some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and other leagues around Europe since bursting onto the scene in 2013.

[ MORE: Koeman not confident Barkley will stay at Everton ]

This time, though, it’s really actually definitely happening without any level of uncertainty — so says Lacazette himself. Speaking to French newspaper L’Equipe this week, the 25-year-old said it’s “the right time” to “discover something else, and to play at a different level.” He went on to reveal he’s already spoken to Atletico Madrid, and Lacazette sounds as if he’s selling Atleti as much on his as they are themselves to him:

“I think that’s the right time. I want to discover something else, and to play at a different level.”

“I know very well that on a European scale I am not yet well recognized. I want to see if I can answer the questions that people are asking, and to make further progress.”

“Atletico are good, it is a club that is in the last rounds of the Champions League for several years.

“It is a great team, in a new stadium, and it is also a club that helps their players progress. And there is Antoine Griezmann. If Atletico is the club I chose, I have not told you, maybe I’ll give you another answer in a few months.”

[ MORE: Latest transfer rumor roundup ]

While no one will begrudge Lacazette this — who wouldn’t want to play with Griezmann? — the reality of a move to Atleti this summer might just be that he’s Griezmann’s replacement after his countryman makes a mega-bucks move to one of Europe’s true giants.

Ajax holds on for dear life to reach UEL Final

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Kasper Dolberg scored a first half goal to give Ajax a four-goal edge on Lyon, but that did anything but make things academic at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

Alexandre Lacazette scored twice before halftime before Rachid Ghazzal pulled Lyon to within a goal of Ajax with nine minutes remaining in regulation.

But Lyon could only muster a 3-1 second leg win, sending Ajax to the May 24 final against Manchester United in Solna, Sweden, with a 5-4 advantage on aggregate.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The 19-year-old Dolberg had scored in the first leg, and scooped up a valuable away goal 27 minutes into the second.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

But Lyon wasn’t going away without a fight, turning to its star striker Lacazette.

The 25-year-old converted a penalty kick in the 45th minute and added one from the run of play in the first minute of stoppage time as Ajax bungled a touch atop its 18 and Lacazette was waiting on the left to provide the end product of Nabil Fekir’s work on the right.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ghazzal netted in the 81st minute to move Lyon to within a goal of extra time but Ajax, somehow, held on.

LIVE – Europa League semifinals: Can Man United, Ajax advance?

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Manchester United’s season pretty much comes down to this game.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Jose Mourinho’s side host Celta Vigo in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semifinal and the Red Devils have a 1-0 aggregate lead against their La Liga opponents thanks to Marcus Rashford‘s fine free kick in the first leg at Balaidos last week.

With United’s hopes of finishing in the top four slim, Mourinho has put all his eggs in one basket as the winner of the Europa League gains UEFA Champions League qualification next season.

That’s exactly what a young, talented Ajax side will be hoping for too as Bertrand Traore and Kasper Dolberg ran the show in the first leg of their semifinal in Amsterdam, but Memphis Depay and Lyon can cause a shock if they score early at home.

The Europa League is certainly a competition which has sprung plenty of surprises in the past.

You can click the link above to follow both matches live, while here at ProSoccerTalk we will have reaction and analysis on both games.

Europa League schedule

Manchester United vs. Celta Vigo (1-0) – 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Ajax (1-4) – 3:05 p.m. ET

Europa League preview: Man United, Ajax nearing clash in final

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At Thursday’s end, two teams will be en route to Sweden… the question is, who?

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Ajax and Manchester United currently lead in their respective ties after solid opening leg performances, but the Dutch and English sides will have to replicate their efforts if they are to meet up in two weeks’ time at Friends Arena.

Manchester United vs. Celta Vigo — Thursday, 3:05 p.m. ET

The Red Devils will head home to Old Trafford to take on Celta Vigo after picking up a crucial away goal in Spain last Thursday in their 1-0 win at the Balaídos.

Marcus Rashford‘s second half free kick proved to be the difference for Jose Mourinho’s side, and the young attacker could play an important role for the Premier League club as they continue to battle the injury bug.

United will have one of its two top goalscorers in the competition though, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and his five goals should provide stability in the attack along with Jesse Lingard.

Mourinho’s men are unbeaten in their last nine UEL matches, winning seven and picking up draws in their other two fixtures. Either result will do for United on Thursday.

Lyon vs. Ajax — Thursday, 3:05 p.m. ET

The Parc Olympique Lyonnais will play host to the two clubs in this semifinal second leg, but the French hosts will have their work cut out against Ajax after a 4-1 defeat six days ago.

Bertrand Traore‘s brace helped push Ajax one step closer to a UEL final, while Kasper Dolberg and Amin Younes each booked their names onto the scoresheet.

Lyon’s lone saving grace from the opening leg came with a Mathieu Valbuena finish in the second half. However, his side would need a 3-0 victory at the very least to have an opportunity at completing the comeback.

Chelsea loanee Traore leads Ajax to 4-1 UEL semi lead vs. Lyon

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Bertrand Traore struck twice to send Ajax to a 4-1 home win in the first leg of Ajax’s UEFA Europa League semifinal tie with Lyon at Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday.

Ajax led 3-0 on goals by Traore, Kasper Dolberg, and Amin Younes. Mathieu Valbuena did secure an away goal for Lyon, but Traore completed his brace in the 71st minute to provide the final score line.

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The winner gets the victor of the other semifinal between Celta Vigo and Manchester United. The UEL Final will be held May 24 in Solna, Sweden.

Ajax is four points back of Feyenoord in the Eredivisie table, while Lyon is fourth in Ligue 1.

Traore is on his second Dutch loan from Chelsea, spending two loan seasons at Vitesse before scoring four times for the Blues last season (two of those goals coming in the Premier League).