Depor’s Lucas loss is Arsenal’s gain

Last season was one of disappointment for Deportivo La Coruna. Their 15th-place finish in La Liga included a barren run of just two wins in 22 League games and concluded with Coach Victor Sanchez losing his job. In spite of this, however, a gem in Lucas Perez was unearthed.

Lucas’ statistics in 2015-16 were impressive for a team who at times flirted with relegation. He was Depor’s top scorer in the League with 17 goals in 36 games and also led their assist chart with eight. During the first half of the campaign, the attacker was unstoppable as he scored in seven successive games, equalling Bebeto’s 22-year-old club record.

Currently in the form of his life, the 27-year-old is reaping the rewards of his hard work and mixed fortunes in the more obscure parts of Europe – whether that be in Ukraine with Karpaty Lviv and Dynamo Kiev or Greece with PAOK Salonika. More importantly, Lucas Perez has picked up from where he left off last season as he scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Eibar, as well as providing the assist for their first goal.

However, as always in football, such exploits have attracted interest from some of Europe’s top clubs. Barcelona had been linked with Lucas as their possible fourth striker, while numerous foreign sides noted the former Rayo Vallecano man’s prolific form last season. However, his main suitor appears to have come from England, where it’s reported that Arsenal have agreed to meet his €20m buyout clause. The Gunners have tracked him since last year and thus are well aware of his qualities.

Should Lucas head to Arsenal, it would be a move that is likely to benefit both the player and club. The uncapped Spaniard is versatile and can play in a multitude of positions and formations if required. Having functioned as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 system for Depor, he can be just as effective playing off a No 9 in a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1. His work rate is second to none, battling for every loose ball, working hard for the team and helping to propel the team forward.

Alas, should Lucas leave, it would be bittersweet for Deportivo and the man who was born in A Coruna. A local hero to residents of the city, he is one of them and someone who grew up watching the Galicians from the stands of Riazor. Therefore, an immense sense of pride to see one of their own prosper to new heights is tempered by sadness at seeing their star player leave. More so, with less than a week to the end of the transfer window, it will be tough for Depor to find an adequate replacement of Perez’s quality.

For Lucas, who turns 28 in September, it’s a wonderful opportunity to make a mark on the most competitive League in the world, even if playing in the Premier League and for a club of Arsenal’s stature brings great scrutiny and pressure. Should the forward prosper, he can quickly become a fans’ favourite in London just as he was in Galicia.