Arsene Wenger wants to keep hold of Lucas Perez next season – if he continues on as Arsenal manager.
The 28-year-old forward has struggled for game time following his £17million move from Deportivo La Coruna last summer, making just 11 Premier League appearances.
Perez has since expressed his frustrations at not featuring regularly for the Gunners and has since hinted at a move back to his former club Deportivo La Coruna at the end of the season:
‘I know there are other clubs who want to sign me and my intention is to play in the Champions League – but in the summer we will see if Depor is still an option.’
Despite his lack of opportunities this season, the Spaniard has managed to score seven goals in 21 appearances.
But Perez has not started a Premier League game since New Year’s Day, and Wenger has admitted that he has not utilized Perez enough during the course of the season as much as he would have liked.
‘He’s a top-quality striker and I couldn’t give him the games that he wants and that he deserves, I must confess that.’
‘I feel sorry for him on that front, but we have more strikers available now because we had the situation where [Olivier] Giroud was not clear at the start of the season, we didn’t know when [Danny] Welbeck would come back, and in the end there was a congestion there. Don’t take anything away from his quality.’
Although Wenger was reluctant to play Perez, the Frenchman still wants to keep him at the club next season if he continues on as Arsenal manager:
‘If I’m the manager, I would love to keep him [next season]. We have to sit down together and see if he has a reasonable chance to play next season or not.’
Injuries have restricted Perez’s involvement as well, but he is clearly behind the likes of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez in the striking pecking order at the Emirates.
The striker may have played his last game for the north London club, as he is unlikely to feature in the FA Cup final against Premier League champions Chelsea at Wembley at the end of the month.
With a summer rebuild in the offing, I can’t see Perez remaining at the club next season if Wenger stays at the helm.