By Dominic Toner
Guillem Balague has made the astonishing revelation that a number of Championship clubs in England turned down the chance to sign imminent Arsenal signing Lucas Perez just 12 months ago.
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal are working on a deal to sign Perez as he revealed his “99 per cent” confidence that the club would sign new players before next Wednesday’s transfer shut-off.
It emerged on Thursday night that the Gunners have beaten Everton to the signing of the Deportivo La Coruna striker after triggering the £17.1million release clause in the 27-year-old’s contract.
Spanish football expert Balague has told Yahoo Sport that Perez’s reputation was such that he was snubbed even by teams in England’s second tier when they were offered the chance to sign him a year ago.
“Last season he was offered to a number of Championship sides who took a look at him and politely declined,” Balague wrote in a column for Yahoo Sports.
“Over the last week or so Everton and Arsenal have been slugging it out among themselves to ascertain who would have the right to trigger his £17million release clause that would see him leave Deportivo for the Premier League.
“Everton looked to be in the driving seat until, according to some reports being leaked, negotiations became rather sticky because the Toffees did not want to work with the agent that had the mandate to sell the player to the blue side of Liverpool.
“While the parties tried to resolve matters, Arsenal stepped into the breach, so by the time you read this, chances are that Snr Perez will probably have already held up a Gunners’ shirt brandishing his name.”
Arsenal have been linked with several high profile names this summer including Gonzao Higuain, Jamie Vardy and Alexandre Lacazette, but now appear to be signing a player not deemed good enough for England’s second-tier of football last season.
Perez joined Deportivo last summer for £1.3million after spending the previous season on loan from PAOK.
The forward was in superb form last season and his 17 La Liga goals helped Deportivo escape the drop from Spain’s top flight.
In all competitions he scored 19 goals and supplied 11 assists from just 39 matches for the Spanish club.
Arsene Wenger has opted to use Alexis Sanchez as a forward at the start of the season but many fans believes Arsenal need a new striker to compete with frontman Olivier Giroud in attack.
In other Arsenal transfer news, their striker has been sent out on loan after the club agree terms.