Lucas Perez: Arsenal’s Alternative Threat

Arsenal signing forwards as of late has been a tedious process. Lukas Podolski never seemed to never suit Arsenal’s style, Danny Welbeck has had a torrid injury record and Arsene Wenger’s persistence to find another Nicolas Anelka in the bizarre purchases of Yaya Sanogo and Park Chu-Young has not worked out. Oliver Giroud has been Wenger’s recent best striker purchase, even if he continues to frustrate with his sometimes poor goal scoring periods.

After recent seasons of witnessing strikers miss crucial chances, no wonder why Arsenal fans crave a high quality striker. Alexandre Lacazette, Gonzalo Higuain, Jamie Vardy and Alvaro Morata were rumoured targets but none of those deals came to pass. Instead, Arsenal purchased Deportivo La Coruna’s Lucas Perez.

A relative unknown player to English football fans, Lucas arrives in North London with a fine goalscoring reputation. At struggling Deportivo, he was their star man last season with 17 La Liga goals and eight assists, helping retain their La Liga status.

His two seasons at Deportivo rebooted a journeyman career. Everton and Sevilla approached him before Arsenal swooped in. Perez’s signing makes a lot of sense for Arsenal; arguably their only reliable striker option is Oliver Giroud and with Danny Welbeck injured, Yaya Sanogo failing to flatter and Alexis unable to play upfront, he is a smart buy for multiple reasons.

Lucas Perez – Arsenal’s Alternative Threat

Of course the major talking point this summer was Arsenal being snubbed by Jamie Vardy but given Lucas’ style, this is not a bitter pill to swallow. As a striker, Lucas is quick on and off the ball, direct, chases down defenders and loose balls and seems to enjoy being a nuisance. His high work rate and continuous pressing gives Arsenal an alternative threat, something they have been lacking lately.

Fellow new summer signing Shkodran Mustafi witnessed his talent first hand last season for Valencia, remarking that he is “uncomfortable to play against” and he will be important for Arsenal’s season. There are apparent parallels to Vardy so losing out on the Leicester forward is not in Wenger’s mind a complete loss but rather a suitable solution to Arsenal’s pressing problem while also saving money.

Furthermore, Lucas can either be a leading striker or play as a supporting attacker. With Giroud likely to remain as Arsenal’s main striker, Perez can effectively play off him with his sharp passing, strong link-up play and ability of retaining the ball. Giroud can only thrive off someone alongside him, leading to more goals from the bearded Frenchman and easing pressure off him.

As a lone striker, Perez can suddenly create chances even with minimal service or lead a counter attack with his blistering acceleration. While Deportivo lacked midfield creativity, Mesut Özil’s creative genius alongside Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey will allow Perez to thrive as an Arsenal striker.

Fans frustrated with Alexis’ ineffectiveness as a striker will enjoy Perez’ constant pressing and forcing defenders into making mistakes. Even if he fails to become a consistent starter, he can be utilised as an impact substitute and given his history scoring in important fixtures, he will flourish in big games.

Critics will downplay the Perez signing because he is not an expensive striker and in fairness, they have a point. Arsenal have been screaming for a world-class centre-forward since Robin Van Persie’s departure but Lucas is a suitable signing for an Arsenal team needing an alternative threat.

A versatile player who supports strikers and can lead counter attacks or be substituted late into a game desperate for a last minute winner, with a blossoming reputation and potential to influence Arsenal’s silverware hunt, he could be Arsène Wenger’s most canny signing in a while. For Arsenal’s sake, he can only hope Lucas Perez quickly settles and become a nuisance for Premier League defences.

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