Opinion: Does Lucas Perez deserve another chance at Arsenal under Unai Emery?

Opinion: Does Lucas Perez deserve another chance at Arsenal under Unai Emery?

The 29 year-old Spaniard has become a forgotten man around the Emirates, but does a change at the helm offer him a chance to revive his career.

Patrick Raccani

Lucas Perez arrival at Arsenal in late August of 2016 was greeted with quiet optimism around the Emirates.

A potent striker is what the club had been crying out for previously, Perez arrived for £17.1 million, on the back of a season in which he scored 17 goals in 37 games for Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga.

Arsene Wenger gave the Spaniard his first start in a dramatic 2-1 win over Southampton in which he was hauled off after 62 minutes in typical Wenger fashion.

Evidently failing to catch his new managers eye, Perez quickly became a forgotten man around North London, not being offered a starting role in the Premier League until New Year’s Day, nearly 3 months after his last start.

Perez seemingly did not fit into Wenger’s plans, with seasoned Premier League strikers such as Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck being the preferred options alongside Theo Walcott’s claims he wanted to play through the middle.

Coupled with a thigh muscle strain which kept him out for the whole of April, Perez ended the season having scored the solitary league goal in a bare 265 minutes.

Perez first season under Wenger showcased flashes of brilliance, an exquisite volley that plunged into the bottom corner against Bournemouth to kick-start a come back from 3-0 down.

On the European stage, Perez teased fans with his predatory instinct with three composed finishes against FC Basel, to complete his only professional career hat-trick.

After an unfortunate start to life in an Arsenal shirt, Perez was stripped of his number nine shirt after the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette in the summer of 2017, it seemed a move out of the club was imminent.

Perez, however, returned on loan to Deportivo last season, in which he endured relegation with his home-town club under the tenure of Clarence Seedorf. Perez scored a mere 9 goals in 37 games in all competitions, however, created the second most chances in the La Liga beaten only by a little-known Lionel Messi.

Perez has now returned to Arsenal looking to revive his career under Unai Emery.

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A fresh start

Unai Emery and Lucas Perez have previous. Perez has twice previously scored against teams managed by Unai Emery in 2015. With Emery’s well reported deep love for meticulous video analysis, he will have studied Perez and understood what he could potentially bring to his team.

Emery’s decisive nature has already seen the early departure of Jack Wilshere this summer, illuminating to the fact that the Spaniard would have been sold by now if deemed surplus to requirements.

Perez dogged nature and perseverance at Arsenal could be the deciding factor in his opportunities for a second chance under Emery. Perez decision to return early to training shows a desire to prove his worth, which has been rewarded with a place in the touring squad to Singapore.

With Carl Jenkinson, Chuba Akpom and Joel Campbell all being excluded, it indicates Emery does not seem them as part of his first-team plans.

Perez has already featured in the first pre-season game under the new Arsenal coach providing an assist in the 8-0 victory over Boreham Wood and coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.

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Perez’s versatility increases his worth to Emery, who favours the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formations from his time at Sevilla and PSG. Perez ability to play on the left-hand side as well as his natural striker position coupled with Arsenal lack of a natural wide player offers Perez a route into the team.

However, competition for places is large with Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette all competing with Perez.

Reiss Nelson, a youth academy product, who featured in small parts last season has also been taken on the tour as well, it is likely both him and Perez will feature heavily in the Carabao Cup and Europa League group stages as Emery tries to cope with the demanding English fixture list in his first season.

Lucas Perez does, perhaps, deserve a second chance at Arsenal under the guidance of Emery.

The perceived poor treatment by the club of the player in his two seasons offered him very limited game time to prove his worth, and the removal of his number nine shirt may have left a bad taste in the mouth of Perez.

But with a new coach, Perez could change his fortunes at Arsenal and create a better legacy for himself as an Arsenal player, playing with a point to prove.