Exclusive

The Mystery of Lucas Perez

By Kevin Whitcher

Spanish striker set to move in spite of showing genuine ability when given the chance

We didnít see too much of Lucas Perez last season. He started a total of nine matches in all competitions, the remainder of his 21 appearances when he entered matches as a substitute. Given this, his return of seven goals looks relatively healthy. Compare that with Theo Walcott, who made 29 starts and eight sub appearances and scored nineteen goals. There seems no good reason why Perez was not given more opportunities.

When he played with a number of established first teamers in the line-up, he generally did well. Granted, when the team lost to Southampton in the League Cup, he didnít perform well, but was part of a very mix and match line-up. This was an exception. So the question is why the manager didnít fancy him. He seemed to contribute to the team defensively and was tigerish in his determination to press for the ball.

Perez was almost certainly purchased due to external (and possibly internal?) pressure to strengthen the teamís attacking options. ArsŤne Wenger did not really want a new striker last summer, happy with his choice between Giroud, Welbeck and as it turned out, Sanchez. But Welbeck was out for several months and that increased the noise for Arsenal to invest, remembering the summer before when no outfield players at all were added as the clubís bank balance piled up. Was the treatment of Perez an example of the managerís stubbornness, which we have seen before with other players. A case of ĎI didnít really want to buy you, so I am not going to use youí.

Or did Perez speak out of turn? Did he rock the boat in some way and was cast aside? He was fully fit between December and mid-March, a period when the team suffered a lot of bad results, but was hardly used.

It looks almost certain that he will move on, and it will be interesting to see if he thrives at another club. With news that Serge Gnabry has joined Bayern Munich, might this be another case of one that got away? It would be very informative to hear ArsŤne Wengerís reasoning behind his non-use of Perez, but somehow, unless the player himself breaks the Arsenal Omerta, I donít see it happening. My suspicion is that next season, the club will retain inferior players than Perez and Gnabry and there are valid questions that need answering as to why. I wonít be holding my breath for the answers.

12th June 2017 09:28:38

(7.6/10)

Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

Bard  9:56am 12th Jun 2017

Good post Kev. These issues are a puzzle. He does seem to have his favourites. Campbell was another who was frozen out although showing a lot more in games than Walcott. Perez has, from the clubs point of view, been a colossal waste of money.It would be a lot better for us to spend big on one player than stock pile average and not so average players. - Post No. 107995


RobG  10:52am 12th Jun 2017

A mystery to me as well. He always looked good - very good in fact - when he played. Given Sanchez is more likely to depart than stay, getting rid of him seems crazy. But then much of Wengo's behaviour this last ten years, fits that description. - Post No. 107997


Yes its Ron  11:55am 12th Jun 2017

Hi Kev. I always liked the look of Gnabry and just mentioned about him on the other thread. In fairness to Wenger re Perez, did he really make us sit up and notice him as a real addition to the squad? He looked pretty ordinary to me when he did get on. Scoring didn't seem natural to him. He s been our equivalent to Jansen at Spurs i feel. Not good enough to step up and really carry the team for any absent striker. I could be proved wrong though if he starts banging em in elsewhere. Gnabry is the real miss of the 2 i think. Its hard to join a squad like Perez did, not first choice and maybe never will be so when a player gets in, he has to impress from the off and look assured. Perez never got close to doing that i feel. - Post No. 107998


Time for change  14:16pm 12th Jun 2017

Wenger out in 2019. - Post No. 107999


GoonerRon  17:19pm 12th Jun 2017

I quite liked the look of Perez but he got an ankle injury around the time that he was starting to look sharp which curtailed some momentum. Really didn't see any reason though why he didn't get more time during our **** period. It seems a bit counter-intuitive to hold up Theo's record of 19 goals in 29 games as a reason why he should have played more though. As for Gnabry, I would have loved to have kept him, had a good mix of power and guile about him. - Post No. 108000


Alsace  18:19pm 12th Jun 2017

I noticed Serge Gnabry's move to Bayern Munich, but had completely forgotten about Campbell. Together with Perez and Lukas Podolski we have four players whose boots Theo Walcott is not fit to lace, clean or lick. Be under no illusion all four of these players have gone by the wayside so that the boy blunder could carry on to his 90th birthday in Thierry Henry's shirt. Guess which other waste of space occupies Wrighty and Freddie's shirt? The worst manager in Arsenal's history has many facets to his other title of un object inutile (and no Arsene , I don't care if I've got the gender of the useless object right). The complete failure to hand onto a nurture real footballing talent is just one of them. - Post No. 108001


mbg  18:46pm 12th Jun 2017

Yes whenever being given the chance the big issue here, TOF would much rather give carthorses and second raters chance after chance along with his pansie nice boys, or maybe TOF has realised Perez has a mind of his own and he's not afraid to speak out is another reason, or Perez realises what the rest of us do and has ambition. We want wenger out. - Post No. 108002


mbg  18:57pm 12th Jun 2017

Alsace, yes the players you mention , the bees knees real class according to AKB's top top Qualittee according to their messiah, where are they today ? wasted and ruined by an old useless good for nothing manager. We want wenger out. - Post No. 108003


equalizer  20:31pm 12th Jun 2017

I feel sorry for Perez. Off the back of his best season ever in Spain and after opening the season with a goal and an assist for Deportivo on Matchday 1, he was duped into signing for Arsene FC, surely believing that players would be selected based on merit. After a brace on his full debut he was dropped. A superb hat-trick on his CL debut and dropped. Probably the outstanding Arsenal player in the early rounds of the FA cup. He never got a fair chance. My guess would be that he was signed by Wenger to save face after Vardy made an idiot out of him while negotiating improved terms at Leicester. - Post No. 108004


Mathews  6:29am 13th Jun 2017

Players being frozened out by Arsene isnt a new thing, even Podolski had gone thru it (a proven world cup winner with a thunderous left foot). Walcott, Ramsey, Giroud..et al are Wenger's pets and he sings them to bed. No wonder they go into a comfort zone, unless they themselves want to improve their career. I feel Perez and Campbell never had a good opportunity to gel with the first eleven, their body language suggests. A panic buy to cover the loss of Vardy or probably pressurized to Wenger by someone. That man is nothing less than a dictator ! - Post No. 108005


Badarse  8:50am 13th Jun 2017

Just a quick observation. Firstly nothing wrong with the article so thanks Kev, though watching from the sidelines for a while I have noticed what I believed to be a more jaundiced attitude creeping into your articles. Perfectly understandable if I have read that correctly, but it can sometimes put a spin on things. Years of hammering the same party line can do that to people.Bottom line is we just do not know what goes on behind the scenes, nor the way an individual's mind works. This means basically that we can only guess at the motives behind any of AW's decisions. @Mathews-colourful writing but AW doesn't do lullabys, dictator is also a wild accusation-experience life under a real dictator and you might see the difference, finally to assume Perez was a panic buy and therefore was frozen out is just a POV as there is no proof. So, extract that little lot and what do we have? You do not rate Ramsey, Giroud and Walcott, but you do rate Perez, Campbell, and Podolski. We differ, see what I mean? I have never recognised Theo as a footballer, but do rate the other two. Podolski had stamina issues, Campbell and Perez both worth a punt, and I too thought that Gnabry may have developed. Again though, it is my POV, and not my decisions to keep or release players. Squad's need to be trimmed, and players released-my main objection is with Theo, who must be the richest and luckiest player in the history of English football, but that is just my view. - Post No. 108006


Bard  9:00am 13th Jun 2017

Unsurprisingly I read that all the Arsenal backroom staff have been retained and put on new contracts. Looks like Ivan's 'catalyst for change' idea is dead in the water. Wonder if he will be offski soon. It symbolises where Arsenal are at. Players and staff rewarded for failure. And this was supposed to be the season for taking it to the next level. Wenger is truly deluded. - Post No. 108007


Badarse  9:21am 13th Jun 2017

Harrow Bald, I am Confuchsia Badarse, Baddie's Chinese aunty. My husband say I still sweet-smelling flower but I think he talk of Lily at the takeaway-stoopet iriot! Why you called bald when you have lots of hair slicked back matching those gleaming fangs, also coming from nose and ears? Is fourth level of uncertainty. We all, people and football teams, merely corks floating on sea of hope, trying to be as near the shoreline as possible without being beached. Some get too close like Pompey, Wigan and Blackburn and finish on beach of lost souls, when people do the same they brown bread. AFC always nearby the land, sometimes very close, sometimes drifting a rittle bit, but now we on cusp of drifting closer. In just over three calendar years AFC win three FA Cups and finish 2nd in league. Is cusp? Is not cusp? You know most about 'amstead's, but we as nation know in every day there is two times tooth hurty, so we know a rittle bit too. Sometimes people on beach view those in sea as not close enough, but often get sand in shoes and up bum, so who is light? Lily's takeaway number one is plawn clackers, so not so good-but she also stoopet iriot. - Post No. 108008


MAF  9:38am 13th Jun 2017

more proof whinger lost his way in the Transfer market. he took all the credit in the past but david dein was the intelligent low key get it done deal maker. Whinger's arrogance remains beyond comprension. as for Alexis, Arsenal would be crazy to sell him. He alone kept things going when Whinger abdicated all responsibilities for about 8 games last season. Alexis carried everyone on his strong back and was rightly furious with Whinger on a number of occassions. the brave move by the board was to Keep alexis, but in top class around him and go for a new top Manager. but they bottled that one - Post No. 108009


equalizer  10:32am 13th Jun 2017

@MAF, good post. The similarities in the situations of Sanchez and RVP are uncanny, except it only took Sanchez a couple of seasons to realise that the club is going nowhere under Wenger. If Bellerin and Chamberlain are being well advised they will go elsewhere also. Ramsay still has time to develop into a top class footballer if he can find the right club and a manager who knows how to coach and use him properly. If any footballer epitomises Wengers 'management' over the last 10 years it is Jack Wilshere. - Post No. 108010


Yes its Ron  12:30pm 13th Jun 2017

I really think regarding Sanchez that once a player wants to go, then they go. He wants out, let him go. Its not just AFC that this happens to, its any Club. Hes a really good player albeit not a central striker and hes done really well of course, but at 29 his sale isnt a silly consideration even to Man City. How many of the players whove gone up the M6 there from AFC have been resounding successes? None really. Sanchez in my view has peaked at Arsenal. He wont get better. For a good sale price Arsenal will sell and so they should at his age. You should recall that Arsenal lost a packet by hanging on to Henry for 18 months rather than selling him when Barca first wanted him. AFC wont risk that again. Its easy to say we should 'keep the best players', but the structural problems in our team if not addressed will still occur whether Sanchez is there or not. Every player has his price and every player is replaceable bar those in the Ronaldo Messi bracket and we ll never have any of them. - Post No. 108012


Exeter Ex  12:32pm 13th Jun 2017

Wenger's decision to retain his entire backroom staff and pronouncements on the priority being keeping the squad together clearly illustrate a man far more interested in shoring up his power base over winning, as the mountains of historical evidence he is no longer capable of sustaining a title challenge illustrate the pointlessness of his continuing, but still Wenger supporters seek to cast doubt where none really exists with their insinuations that Wenger is somehow obliged to do these things (despite his own pronouncements to the contrary) and is a genius working under a terrible yolk, a martyr to the cause, and remains our best and only hope. It really is laughable this is still going on in 2017, but like May's government the high farce to come will be entertaining in its own way. - Post No. 108013


Yes its Ron  12:55pm 13th Jun 2017

equalizer - its the same sas the RVP situ now as you say, but RVP was a kid when he arrived in the shadow of Bergy and Henry et al and it suited him to stay at AFC all those yrs and wait his chance, whatever his view on Arsenals prospects over the period. AS was an established top pro when he arrived so of course hes found his view earlier. I honestly think hes replaceable but the Club will need to buy a high quality marksman to play centrally. I think they will. They need one even if AS stays. Arsenal real needy position though is in centre midfield. We ve badly needed s player to dominate games but his presence strength and control since PV4 left. Never finding the right man has been the hub of most of the failings in my view this last 10 years, far more so than the other obvious weaknesses we ve had such as goalkeepers. Those types dont seem to exist anywhere though do they. Xhaka will develop well i think as hes becoming quite mean and aggressive, but hes not the answer on his own. Its the Willys and the Rambos who need to make way for a really top middle man. - Post No. 108014


equalizer  13:50pm 13th Jun 2017

Yes its Ron, I think you're missing my point. Whatever ones opinion on Sanchez staying or going, and I respectfully disagree with yours, the crux of situation is that the club simply does not match the ambitions of its top players and cannot hold onto them. The new stadium was sold to the fans with a manifesto that Arsenal would compete with the top clubs, but they're simply not, unless it comes to the managers wages. The fact that Sanchez and Ozil, two £50 million + assets, have been allowed play down their contract to the final year, demonstrates that the club and management have learned nothing from the RVP situation. Nothing. Regarding your confidence that AFC will replace Sanchez with a top quality striker, I'd be very interested to know why you would feel so confident about that given Wengers record over the past decade? What teams wants to sell players of his quality? Would a player of his quality want to play in a Thursday cup team? For what its worth, I think Sanchez is in the top 10 players in world football, and Arsenal got lucky getting him when Barca needed funds to sign Suarez. - Post No. 108017


Yes its Ron  15:12pm 13th Jun 2017

Equalizer - all correct points and ones ive oft used too. AFC s ambition is stunted as you say. As far as matching the players ambitions, im not totally sure AFC will ever be able to do that. Its the preserve of Utd and City etc etc to do that. The nugget players we do get inevitably move on.The Coach isnt in my view worthy of parity to the worlds top coaches earnings as you say. Ive no evidence to suggest AW will get the striker i mention either, its purely a hunch. Sanchez is maybe top 10 too.Reality is that AFC are what they are. AWs the Coach. Theyre not going to change. Theyre happy. The owners happy. Sancho is 29. SK will see the benefit of maxing his sale fee. The fans were built up in expectation after the move. No doubt. Many fans have to decide what theyre going to do now, either give it up like i and many have or back the regime and the Coach for however long it remains in situ. All of our views have i feel hit home to the Club to a certain degree, but are far from having got close to making AFC move course. Its not happening and wont. Only disastrous ticket sales and ST sales will change anything. While the ground is nigh full for most games what you have is what you get. That means sales of such as AS will go on and on and on just as it has this last 10 yrs. Its up to each fan to choose now. For me, theres no debate anymore. I just follow the Club from afar and via the TV plus the odd cheap ticket away day match trip. Its easier for me to take a reality view on things but im glad i did it 7 years ago. Todays trials and tribulations at AFC no longer deeply affect me. I suspect that youre different and perhaps still attend regularly? Its the regulars and their kids who i do feel for as many are still wrestling with the choices they have to make now. - Post No. 108018


Issue #268 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

8th December 2017

A Feast Of Goals In Front Of The Few

Online Ed: Arsenal demolish Bate Borisov witnessed by circa 20,000