Has Lucas Perez got a long-term future at Arsenal? My answer to this, seeing as we only signed him last summer from Deportivo La Coruna, would have to be yes. But on the evidence I’ve seen this season, in terms of his lack of appearances for the Gunners so far this season, I would have to say no.
Arsenal snapped the 28-year-old up last summer from Deportivo La Coruna for around £17million after the Emirates faithful urged Arsene Wenger to sign a striker to bolster the club’s attacking options. Perez came in as an unknown player to most fans which had several of them questioning why Wenger brought him instead of a top quality, established forward. The answer to that question is one of three: 1. Either Wenger failed to lure one to Arsenal. 2. He didn’t bother chasing one to begin with. Or 3. He thought he would just buy someone of decent quality to appease the fans. Any three of those answers are feasible in my opinion.
To be fair to Wenger, Perez has proved to be a good player when he has featured for us this season – unfortunately, this hasn’t been enough for the fans and the player himself, who is now reportedly questioning his future at the Emirates. The Spaniard has made just nine starts in all competitions with a further 12 coming off from the bench. When he has featured, Perez has found the back of the net seven times which is impressive considering his lack of opportunities thus far and being played out of position. You should know that Perez is typically a centre-forward by trade. Although he can operate on the flanks, many will feel that you can get the best out of him through the middle. He makes intelligent runs, knows where the goal is and has good skill on the ball. So why did Wenger sign him only to play him out of position?
It’s not Wenger’s first time he has done this during his reign at Arsenal. He signed Lukas Podolski, a centre-forward FC Koln at the time, and put him out wide instead of his preferred position upfront. As a result, the German was unable to fill his potential and was eventually sold. Before Podolski arrived, Wenger signed Russian forward Andrey Arshavin in 2009 after an impressive showing at Euro 2008. Instead of deploying him as the main striker or behind one, the Frenchman yet again opted to stick him out on the wing. The result was the same, Arshavin was made to look mediocre and hounded by fans for not showing his true ability. He left to re-join former club Zenit St. Petersburg on a free in 2013.
It would be a shame to see Perez follow in the footsteps of those before him (Podolski, Arshavin) as he looks a player who can become a regular in the side. However, for some reason, Wenger refuses to start him and plays him out of position.
I hope to see more of Perez in action next season, but if what we have seen so far is anything to go by, I reckon the Spaniard will grow tired of waiting for regular game time and playing out of position, thus not reaching his full potential at Arsenal.
(Article courtesy of Absolute Arsenal – Follow them on Twitter @absolute_arsnl)