Arsenal’s need for a striker has been a unanimous opinion in recent years. Arsene Wenger’s team are infuriating on the basis of the very fact that they begin their season looking like a team which would struggle to be in the top four but then perform brilliantly to turn themselves into real contenders but finally fall short of taking the final step towards the title.
To be fair, in the last decade, the Gunners were never in need of a massive overhaul of their squad, they just needed to have 2 or maximum 3 quality reinforcements in some specific positions. For some reason or the other, the club has failed to bring in the players needed or some experienced players couldn’t do justice to their reputation with their on-field displays. This summer, Wenger activated the release clause of Vardy with a £20m bid, but the Leicester striker decided to stay at his current club.
The club was then linked with a number of options but none of them materialized as the quoted price was too high or was the risk factor. Lacazette was a very good option with Icardi and Arsenal pursued Lacazette strongly throughout the summer but Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas was adamant not to let the player leave France this season while the English club refused to pay the full £40m transfer fee. Wenger also tried to sign Griezmann, as his primary target upfront which was termed as ‘Madness’ not because of it was never going to happen but because it was the one which could have seen the Gunners close one of the best, if not the best deal of this window.
As time went by, nothing materialized and the fans grew impatient. Finally, it seems now that the club would be signing a striker and he plays of Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna. All the excitement suffers a sudden disappointment but if we study a bit more about our target, things won’t look so dull after all.
In the La Liga, a league dominated by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Antoine Griezmann and Benzema, people seem to care less about the others or hear about them. Last season, other than those aforementioned names, there were some other names who scored more than 15 league goals. Veteran Aritz Aduritz scored 20, Ruben Castro scored 19 and Eibar’s Borja Baston and Deportivo’s Lucas Perez netted 18 and 17 goals respectively. 23-year-old Borja Baston has been already snapped up by Swansea City while Arsenal have set their sights on Perez who was linked with Barcelona previously.
Perez is a player who boasts of attributes which seems tailor made for a team like Arsenal. He has plenty of pace and energy while his work rate has seen him being compared to the likes of Jamie Vardy. The 27-year old’s versatility is one of his strong points with his teamwork. He had a hand in Deportivo’s 25 goals (17 goals, 8 assists) last season in his 36 appearances in La Liga.
Having amassed great experience during his playing time in Spain, Ukraine and Greece, the forward has used his exposure to playing at different positions at different clubs to develop into a truly versatile forward who is not the quintessential target man or the conventional poacher but is actually a modern hybrid of an inverted winger and a clinical striker. The type which will provide Arsene Wenger with further options and tactical flexibility, Perez has excelled under adverse situations something which will be very significant for his future.
The 5ft 11in forward can be used in a variety of roles at The Emirates, as the only option up front, in tandem with Giroud as a withdrawal forward or even on the flanks. While he played extensively on the left wing at his former club PAOK, his inclination to play as an inside forward cutting in from the wide areas has seen him score numerous goals this season from the right-hand channel. While he excelled when given the chance to lead the line showcasing his brilliant instinctive finishing skills, he never sacrificed his playmaking skills for the typical striker’s ego around the penalty box.
Deportivo La Coruna want €20m for the player, which is his release clause. Arsenal won’t get another striker of his quality at this bargain. Everton are also interested in the player after getting some glowing recommendations from their Director of Football Steve Walsh. For me personally buying Perez would be an excellent move for Arsenal as I am convinced that he is the best striker available at the moment who fits into the recommendations of the club, and Wenger especially, while providing the best value for money. For those who aren’t yet convinced, I will just say that if Steve Walsh is an admirer then the player is ought to be taken seriously.