Amid all the current transfer speculation and hubbub, the situation of Lucas Perez has flown completely under the radar. He is due back at London Colney on July 2, but his future remains unclear.
The Spanish forward joined Arsenal in August 2016, and despite contributing a bag of assists and important goals—including a Champions League hattrick against FC Basel—he failed to impress the old boss, Arsene Wenger. Perez quickly fell down the pecking order—12 of his 21 appearances came from off the bench—and was eventually sent out on a season-long loan to his former team, Deportivo.
Perez enjoyed patches of strong form at his hometown club, including a run of seven games during September to November that saw him net five goals. His form significantly dried up, however, until the latter stages of the season when he scored four goals in the last eight matches. One—perhaps redeeming—statistic, however, is his amount of chances created: 79! I have always been skeptical of the ‘chances created’ stat due to its lack of context, but what I do know is that only Lionel Messi achieved higher that season (87). But alas, he and his team suffered a disappointing relegation, winning just seven league games all season.
While it could be argued he may flourish when surrounded by top-class players, his case for a second chance at Arsenal isn’t a strong one. Perhaps this is why Perez has failed to spark any sort of discussion whatsoever in the Arsenal, and wider football communities. With Arsenal’s current attacking options, Perez will be hard-pressed to earn his spot in the side, especially if Danny Welbeck—his closest competitor—remains fit.
Furthermore, Welbeck will be looking to impress the new boss by putting in good performances at the World Cup this year—an opportunity Perez doesn’t have. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the middle; Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Welbeck out wide; where does Perez fit in?
There is a silver lining for Perez, however. Emery showed interest in Perez last summer, as he reportedly offered him a move to Paris Saint-Germain. So, Emery certainly sees something in Perez, and the fact he has actually been instructed to arrive for pre-season training suggests he will be offered a second chance with the Gunners. But, it is understood Perez and his agent have not spoken to Emery yet, and a decision will only be made once discussions have taken place.
Emery potentially calling back Lucas Perez is a good move for me. Always made contributions when given a chance. Scores hat trick in champions league and gets dropped. Comes on and scores screamer against Bournemouth, gets dropped. Unfairly treated imo. #afc— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) May 23, 2018
With two years left on his contract, the decision will ultimately fall to Perez, should Arsenal receive offers for him. Arsenal’s Europa League commitments next season will surely see Perez get some solid game-time there, but, if he wants more than that, he will need to look elsewhere. I, personally, would like to see him stick around for added depth. And, besides, based on his time at Arsenal, he is a pretty handy player to have around. However, at 29, he will surely be pining for more regular football to re-fuel his career.