So, how many of you knew anything at all about Spanish forward Lucas Perez of Deportivo La Coruna before the reports linking him to Arsenal started to emerge yesterday? Be honest. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Don’t feel badly - I’m in the same boat.
Earlier today, TSF’s resident expert on Spanish football, bozz, stopped by the Editorial Room of the blog and dropped in a blog post that offered to bring us up to speed on the 27-year-old. bozz’s exact words were:
You guys should read this. This is the best report on Lucas you’ll see. Ignore all others.
With that ringing endorsement, I decided to take a look and to share the high points with you. First, though, a quick rundown on his stats. Last year, Lucas (that’s what he has on his shirt) had a career high in goals and assists, scoring 17 goals and notching 8 assists in 34 starts and 1 substitute appearance for the Turcos last year. He’s 27 years old and will be 28 in a couple of weeks.
Like the author of the linked blog piece, Lucas is a Deportivo fan. He’s apparently been shooing away offers from a number of clubs this summer, including Leicester, Southampton, Napoli, Zenit, and Sevilla. As Chris puts it, though,
when Arsenal come knocking, it’s hard to resist. Especially when you’re 27, at the peak of your game and performing at a club far smaller in current stature.
Chris, the author of the piece in question at moarfootball.com, spends a great deal of the piece comparing the Spanish forward to Jamie Vardy. He says that Lucas and Vardy
both are the same type of player: lean forwards with bags of speed and energy, always raring to break the defensive line and find themselves one-on-one. In fact, much like Vardy, Lucas suits the counter-attacking style of football. A style that Arsenal irregularly employ, which may be a sticking point. If Wenger does switch for this sort of style, which could be supported by the fact he’s chased down two identical strikers this summer, Arsenal may just have pulled off a bargain considering the current market.
Also according to the piece, Lucas is one you can see playing as a central striker by himself or playing close to and off of another striker. He can be either a lone counter-attacking striker or one who can act as a “foil and creator” for Arsenal’s French forward, Olivier Giroud. Lucas is one who brings out the best in the players around him and should help Giroud and Alexis push their goal tallies even higher.
Chris explains that Lucas scored and assisted as much as he did for a team where most past top scorers could only amass 7-10 goals. Deportivo have long lacked creativity, forcing their strikers to create for themselves - which shows Lucas’ quality and ability. Even lacking a creative force the likes of Arsenal’s German superstar Mesut Ozil, Lucas still could create from nothing and score a very respectable number of goals, 17 goals and 8 assists in 34 appearances, 1 as a substitute. For comparison, Giroud scored 21 goals with 6 assists in 31 appearances, 14 as a substitute, last year in all competitions; Walcott scored 7 with 3 assists in 18 appearances, 16 as a substitute, in all competitions last year; Alexis scored 16 with 9 assists in 35 appearances, 2 as a substitute, in all competitions; and Vardy scored 24 goals and assisted 6 times in 36 starts last year in the Premier League.
Lucas can apparently be somewhat frustrating because it takes him a few chances before he can convert, something that Arsenal fans like to use as a cudgel with which to beat Olivier Giroud, who has always posted very respectable numbers for the Gunners. Arsenal fans also expect that every time a forward touches the ball it should go into the net, so I’m guessing they’d be frustrated with almost anybody out there - just go back and have a look at the Cavani fail-fest compilation I posted in Cannon Fodder yesterday!
Seriously, though, it really sounds like we’re going to love Lucas Perez in red and white. Chris says Arsenal fans will love Lucas for the same reason they love Alexis. He’s a hard worker, will absolutely run himself into the ground to pick up a loose ball, and then carry it forward. Unlike Alexis, he’s not as much a dribbler so he’s more likely to lay it off to a team-mate when doing so, but he seems like one who will win a lot of adoration by giving a hundred percent for the badge.
I’ll end with Chris’ excellent closing. I’m genuinely excited.
Is he perfect? No. And is he the striker Arsenal 100% wanted this summer? No. But I think he could prove to be an exceptional capture if, as aforementioned, the system is arranged to suit his game. He could be the perfect partner for Giroud and Alexis.
I’d like to wish Lucas the best at Arsenal. Thank you for helping the city of A Coruña dream again; for the goals, the assists, the times you picked the team up from the rubble surrounding it. Thank you for that goal that sparked the revival against Barcelona that kept us up; the goal against Villarreal that also secured our safety the year after. Noraboa, boa sorte.
UPDATE: Bonus, Lucas already speaks English!
Just added it to the article, but for those who missed it: Lucas *can* speak English. Used it as form of communication in Greece/Ukraine.— Chris (@MoarFootball) August 25, 2016