By Matt Farr
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he has not been able to give Lucas Perez the regular first-team football he deserves.
The 28-year-old forward has seen first-team opportunities at the Emirates few and far between following his £17million move from Deportivo last summer.
Perez has scored seven goals and supplied five assists from 21 appearances in all competitions this season, but he has been handed just nine starts.
The Spaniard appears to be growing increasingly frustrated at his lack of regular opportunities this season, fuelling speculation that he could quit the north London club this summer.
But Arsenal chief Wenger has done little to quash the reports by admitting he has not given the striker the action he deserves, with Perez falling to fifth in the pecking order during his recent injury absence.
As quoted by the Standard, he said: “He’s a top quality striker and I couldn’t give him the games that he wants and he deserves, I must confess that.”
Perez had earlier added further fuel to the fire by admitting to Spanish newspaper La Voz De Galicia, as quoted by the Standard, that a potential return to Deportivo remains an opportunity should his current situation fail to improve.
His departure from the club would disappoint fans, with the Arsenal support having taken a liking to Perez despite his intermittent appearances.
The fans were particularly fond of Perez following his impressive hat-trick during the 4-1 win over FC Basel during the Champions League group stage in December.
But he has yet to feature for the Gunners in the Premier League since a brief cameo display in the defeat to Liverpool on March 4, as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury.
Football Insider verdict
As impressive as Perez has been during his limited opportunities, and no matter how highly the fans rate him, he looks sure to quit the club this summer. He simply hasn’t been given an important role in the first team squad at Arsenal this term, but at least Wenger has recognised that. It will though, do little to ease the striker’s frustrations, unless of course he can be convinced of a regular first-team role at the club next season. Yet so long as the current group of attackers remain at the Emirates, a regular role for Perez does not look likely.
In other Arsenal transfer news, rivals Tottenham are set to reignite their interest in this 26-year-old reported Arsenal target.