In Depth

Lucas Perez: Why have Arsenal signed another winger?

The obscure Spanish forward may have better stats than Griezmann, but he could turn out to be a poor man's Nolito

Arsene Wenger has finally signed a striker - but after a summer in which Arsenal had offers for Jamie Vardy and Alexandre Lacazette turned down and were linked to big name stars such as Gonzalo Higuain, Mauro Icardi and Alexandre Lacazette, many fans are wondering whether Lucas Perez will be the man to fire them to the top of the table.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, who stands under six feet tall and has never had an international call-up, has scored 52 goals in 178 games since his debut for Rayo Vallecano in Spain's second division in the 2009-10 season.

Had Britain already left the EU, he may have struggled to qualify for a work permit. 

Perez has had a peripatetic career and the £17m Arsenal are paying for him is more than ten times his value 12 months ago, when he signed for Deportivo la Coruna for £1.3m, according to Transfer Market.

Perez played only seven first team games for Vallecano before leaving on a free transfer at the age of 22 in January 2011. His destination was Karpaty Lviv, in Ukraine, where he scored 15 goals in 60 matches.

He was also loaned to Dynamo Kiev, but never made it into the first team – his time in Kiev was the "worst four months" of his life, he says.

Next stop was PAOK Thessaloniki in Greece, who signed Perez for less than £600,000 in 2013 and after a season in which he scored ten goals in 50 games, he was loaned to Deportivo la Coruna in Spain.

Back in his homeland, he scored six goals in 21 games and signed a permanent deal with the Spanish side 12 months ago, finally beginning to prove himself at the top level.

In 37 games, he notched up 17 goals - and that is presumably what caught the eye of Arsenal's scouts.

While his goals-per-games ratio might not be that great, there are reasons to believe he could prosper at the Emirates. Indeed, The Sun says he "is better than Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, according to the stats".

Drools the paper: "In La Liga games last season, Perez had eight assists compared to Griezmann's five, 72 chances created against Griezmann's 53 and a shot accuracy of 59 per cent – two better than the Frenchman's.

"He also scored 17 goals in 36 games – one more than Giroud and in two fewer games. Perez also trusts his talent, trying 85 shots compared to Giroud's 80 and Griezmann's 75."

However, Arsenal fans could be forgiven for experiencing a pang of deja vu as they read the Daily Mirror's assessment of the player.

At 5ft 11in, Perez is "technically weak in the air and doesn't win a lot of his aerial duels but can hold the still ball up well and would prove a better attacking fulcrum than the likes of Theo Walcott", it says.

"He will fill in on the left should Sanchez need a break and could also play as a secondary striker with Giroud. Lucas is fast and full of energy, whether playing out wide or centrally he will hassle defenders and look to play off the last man."

The Mirror suggests he could be a player in the mould of Jamie Vardy, who rejected the Gunners earlier in the season.

But that does not impress Antony Kastrinakis of The Sun, who says the deal proves Wenger is keeping to his "tried and tested recipe of buying players Arsenal do not really need".

The fans wanted a big name so the manager went for a "band-aid transfer to help a top-four push". He is right-price, wrong-calibre signing, declares Kastrinakis.

"Another Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Perez is a winger who can play as second striker. He played as the main man for a season at hometown club Deportivo and did well but he is more like Manchester City's Nolito - only not as good."

To add insult to injury, the striker will cost the Gunners £3.5m more than Nolito cost genuine title contenders Manchester City.

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