After a bizarre roller-coaster ride of a season, full of ebbs and flows, Arsenal FC are understandably being linked with a number of incoming players as well as a number of star performers who they may struggle to hold onto, namely their leading goalscorer Alexis Sanchez.
Amidst all the summer scuttlebutt, rumours and gossip, one player seems to go unnoticed. Much like he did during this past season and that player is Lucas Perez.
According to the Daily Mirror, the 28 year-old Spaniard has told the Club that he would like to leave this summer after just one season at the Emirates. One could hardly blame Perez after a season in which he barely featured.
Even Manager Arsene Wenger seemed to agree with the decision for Perez to move on
He’s a top quality striker but I couldn’t give him the games he wants and deserves, I confess that. I feel a bit sorry for him.
This quote from the Arsenal boss only adds more questions as to why this situation unfolded in such a bizarre way. If Wenger thinks Perez is a top quality striker then surely he could’ve found a way to get him in the Arsenal line up on a more regular basis.
Furthermore, Perez was supposedly signed as competition for Olivier Giroud as a centre forward, but instead he was mostly used as a wide-man, where the Gunners have a wealth of options from Theo Walcott, to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez and on occasion even Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey.
So if he is as you say a top quality striker then why play him out wide where the cupboard is far from bare and why pay £17m on a player you have no room for in your squad?
This is what is so infuriating and frustrating about Wenger in the transfer market and why the club need a Sporting Director in my opinion.
After failing to sign Gonzalo Higuain and Alexander Lacazette last summer and as the transfer window of 2016 was nearing it’s conclusion, Wenger knew he had to bring someone in to appease the fans but without paying the kind of outlandish fees that he loathes and detests, Lucas Perez was signed from Deportivo instead. At the time of the signing Wenger had this to say about Perez
He’s not only a goal scorer, he’s a guy who combines well with partners, who can give a final ball and makes good runs. He’s got a good eye for goal and had an outstanding season last year.
You would think with praise like that being showered upon you by your manager would make more than a grand total of 17 appearances across all competitions and only two starts in the Premier League. His last appearance came in March as a second-half substitute against non-league Lincoln in the FA Cup.
Yet, despite the absurd lack of opportunity, Perez was effective, scoring 7 goals, including a Champions League hat-trick vs. Swiss side Basel during the group stage.
With that kind of production despite such limited opportunity, one wonders what type of impact Perez could’ve had if he were given more chances to play.
As a long-time Gooner, watching Perez continually be ignored left me frustrated and baffled as to why. Watching him play during the few occasions he was dusted off and thrown onto the pitch, Perez passed the eye test and displayed a lot of the qualities Wenger listed during the time of his signing.
Alas, all is for naught. The chances of Perez remaining in North London past the closing of the transfer window seems highly unlikely to say the least.
He will seek out a club that will offer him an opportunity to play regular football. Something that Arsenal failed to do and something they were never set up to be able to do.