One of the most highly anticipated signings of last summer was Lucas Perez, the Deportivo la Coruña forward who it was thought would bring a new dimension to Arsenal’s attack, to complement Giroud’s meaty French forehead and Alexis’ insane energy and drive. Needless to say, it hasn’t quite worked out that way for the 28 year old, who has struggled to find playing time even as Arsenal have struggled to play.
It’s a very strange situation, because whenever Perez has played, he’s performed - he has logged just under 1000 Arsenal minutes this season, and in those minutes, he’s scored seven goals and set up five more. For all you math fans, that’s a goal contribution every 77 minutes, and seven goals in just about 10 games of cumulative play time. Which seems, to my not-expert eyes, pretty good?
By all accounts, Perez is also a quiet guy who keeps his head down and does a ton of work in training, as well, so it’s not like he is, in baseball vernacular, a clubhouse cancer; he seems to be a well regarded player who is clearly productive, so I have no idea from the outside what the heck is going on there.
Lucas Perez clearly doesn’t either, because he spoke to a Galician newspaper over the weekend about his frustrations, and how this season has made him open to a return to Depor if the situation presents itself. He said:
"This season has been difficult because I think I've deserved to play more," the 28-year-old said. "I may not have done as well as others, but if they'd have given me more minutes I'd have produced better numbers: more goals and more assists. I've spoken to the coach and he admits as much, but he has own ideas and I respect that. I'd like more opportunities because I think I deserve them, but I'll have to accept what comes my way."
So it’s not like he’s burning bridges or trying to irritate the club into giving him playing time. He just feels, as a lot of us do, that he’s earned more playing time than he’s getting, and doesn’t understand, as a lot of us don’t, why he’s not getting it. He isn’t giving up, though:
"I would like to prove that I've got the quality to win things with Arsenal," he said. "But if the moment comes when I can't do that anymore, or if they decide to transfer me, there is always the opportunity to go back to Deportivo.”
I hope he doesn’t take that opportunity. I’m not sure what it would take to convince Wenger that Lucas is worth an expanded role, but given what we’ve all seen from him so far, there may be nothing he can do, which is a shame. If that’s the case, I hope he lands on his feet somewhere, because he’s a quality player and deserves more than he’s gotten at Arsenal.