By Tony Attwood
The first time I heard the story that Lucas Perez could be brought back from his series of loans to be part of the first team squad for 2018/9 I really couldn’t believe it. But that tale has started popping up all over the place – which either means an awful lot of writers and editors are doing cut and paste jobs, or a bit of simplistic reasoning is going on which makes the story look plausible, or unlikely though it seems, it really is a plausible scenario. One of those three.
In this case there is a good reason to be cautious for not only is there only one source to the story, but that source itself doesn’t really suggest that Arsenal are taking Perez back.
All the publications that run the story in English quote El Desmarque as their source. That “source” has published La “hoja de ruta de Lucas Pérez” (The Lucas Pérez road map). No one else seems to be running the story – except to repeat what they have said.
So here is what they say, translated (obviously) from the Spanish.
“The summer of Lucas Pérez begins to take shape. Arsenal has already told the forward from Coruña when he will have to join the preseason: it will be on Monday, July 2. That is the date on which the North London team will start preparing the 2018-19 season, and will do so with Unai Emery as the new head of the first team.
“The signing by Arsenal of the new coach from Hondarribia [Emery’s home town]… is seen as “good news” by the player’s entourage. In fact when Emery was coach of Paris Saint-Germain, he expressed a firm interest in Lucas during the summer of 2016.
“Both the attacker and Rodrigo Fernández Lovelle, his agent, were waiting to know who would be the occupant of the Arsenal manager’s office before beginning to assess what Pérez’ next destination will be. After confirming the arrival of Emery, and with the attacker on holiday after completing a disappointing season both personally and for the team, (as he himself has acknowledged on more than one occasion), Lovelle is waiting for a message from London to set a meeting at which the parties will address the future of the player. The expectation is that the meeting in London will occur during the first half of June.”
So not exactly a “I want Lucas in my team” from the new manager. But more a “what are we going to do with him?” Lucas signed a four-year contract with Arsenal at the end of August 2016, on a salary around £2m a year plus bonuses. And I can find little in the commentary from Spain to suggest they really do want him back.
On 27 August 2016 and he played his first game in a 2–1 home win over Southampton in a game in which he chalked up one assist. He got two goals in a League cup match against Nottingham Forest the following month and three against Basel in the Champions League 4-1 win. His first league goal came the following January as part of the come back from being 3-0 down against Bournemouth.
Here’s the record…
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|Club||Season||Lge games||Lge goals||Cup games||Cup goals||Euro games||Euro goals||Total games||Total goals|
So, he got a fair number of games for Deportivo, but the question remains if he did come back, where would he play, or perhaps to put it another way round, when would he play.
We have in terms of players who can play in the forward line or in a line behind the one centre forward the likes of Aubamayang, Lacazette, Iwobi, Welbeck, Mkhitaryan, Ozil. That is six players before we even consider any youngsters such as Eddie who might step up and get a few more games in Cup matches. Would we really want one more? Would we sell one of those players to make room for one more?
I really can’t see that happening. And that, in one example, is what we find over and over. There is talk about a possibility of a player being brought in or returning, but a little look at the detail suggests that the option seems not just unlikely but also unnecessary.
So what we have is that the Arsenal manager once enquired about Lucas when he was at PSG, that the Arsenal manager is Spanish and that the player whose loan has ended has been told of the date when all players are expected to report back for training. Not really that much of an indication that Arsenal want to keep him.