Marca is reporting (Spanish) that Arsenal have activated the €20m (£17m) buyout clause for Deportivo la Coruna’s star striker Lucas Perez. Arsenal have sent representatives to Spain to hammer out a deal with the player and are confident that the player will agree to terms before this weekend.
Lucas Perez is a versatile forward who can play wide or through the middle. He scored a career-high 17 goals for Depor last season as their main forward, or as the Spanish call it the “ariete” or battering ram. Lucas is hardly a battering ram style player, however, and instead wowed crowds in Spain with his silky quick counter attacking goals.
Lucas scored 17 goals on a mere 100 shots with just one goal from the penalty spot but, crucially, he scored four goals on the counter attack. Arsenal were one of the worst teams in England on counter attacks last season, scoring just three goals in 38 games. Lucas also added 8 assists for Depor, often playing as the lone striker up front and creating for late-running midfielders. All combined Lucas scored or created 25 of Deportivo’s 45 goals last season, carrying 56% of the scoring workload for his team.
Lucas took 100 shots and also created 72 shots for teammates, that means 38% of Deportivo’s total offense ran through Lucas. This season he has already scored and assisted both of Deportivo’s goals in their opening match against Eibar. It remains to be seen if a player who is used to being the number one option will be happy playing in the Arsenal system or if, perhaps more crucially, the Arsenal system will be happy playing him as the number one option.
Lucas’ total shots numbers are low for a star striker at 100. However, his team only took 455 shots in the whole season. In contrast, Arsenal took 574 shots last season, 119 more shots total. Arsenal also created 467 key passes last season and Deportivo 331. The shots will be there for Lucas at Arsenal if he wants them.
Lucas is also not the type of player to just take shots from distance. In a typically Arsenal style, Lucas took 66% of his shots inside the 18 yard box. He also scored only two goals from outside the 18 yard box, one from a direct free kick.
This is a very typical Arsene Wenger signing: a player who comes to Arsenal for basically free (£17m transfer for a striker is peanuts), after being quoted crazy prices for other players, who shows a huge amount of promise, who is versatile, and who was flying under everyone’s radar.
Arsenal is a massive step up for Perez. Not only in terms of playing in the Premier League and in the Champions League but also in terms of the quality of teammates he will be playing with. Lucas is a hard working professional who has been forced to travel from Russia to Greece before finally landing a gig with Deportivo two seasons ago. He will need to continue to demonstrate that same work ethic if he is going to succeed at Arsenal.
Perez had been courted by Everton and this signing represents the first time in recorded history that Arsenal have “swooped” and “pipped” a player from another team.