Lucas Perez Martinez: Is he the world-class support we need to lead Arsenal’s bid for the title, or the man who just happens to be available in a rapidly shrinking market?
I’ll preface this by saying that I am no expert on Lucas, I know little of his exploits in La Liga, or at the various clubs for whom he has appeared over the years.
I know simply what is available to me anecdotally: that he managed 17 goals and eight assists last season, and six goals with three assists the season before that.
Certainly, it’s a presentable tally when looked at in isolation but what we have heard from Arsene time and again is that he will only enter the market if he feels what he is buying will improve upon what we already have.
Does the 27-year-old Spaniard fit that bill?
Compared solely with Giroud, you would have to say no. But what he would bring would be some depth to the team which, in the absence of the Frenchman, is paper-thin in attack. After Olivier and Chuba Akpom, we’re left with attacking experiments in Theo Walcott and Alexis, and Yaya Sanogo. The cupboard is more or less bare.
To that end, it seems a reasonable signing, but it certainly is not a signing that will set pulses racing. It’s not a signing that will send out a statement of serious title-winning intent.
This was a summer when we were supposed to do big things. Free of the shackles of financial constraint, and with our Premier League rivals all making big moves in the transfer market, we were shaping up to land three or four marquee signings.
It hasn’t transpired that way, despite the increasing and sometimes vitriolic anger of fans.
And in that context, this signing will feel a little like desperation, a bit of a damp squib. Of course, that’s absolutely unfair on Lucas, just as much of the criticism levelled at Giroud is.
I’m sure the overwhelming majority of fans will, if the deal goes ahead, welcome the Spaniard to the club and pray that he delivers the goods on the pitch.
But there is just something about the timing and the mooted price tag of this deal that makes it feel like an accident of chance, rather than design.
It feels like Arsene put all his eggs into the Jamie Vardy basket and, when that fell through, he was left stumped.
There was a tepid bid for Lacazette that was very publically rebuffed and then, in the face of growing pressure, Arsene and his team looked over plans B, C and D, before settling on a bid for Lucas.
And the price being suggested, about £17million, smacks very much of Arsene. He loathes having to pay over the odds for players, to the point of outright belligerence. A player with a price tag that’s less than half the price being quoted for Lacazette would be music to Arsene’s ears, a demonstration of his belief that value does exist in the market.
By all accounts, Everton were in the process of signing Lucas when Arsenal emerged with a late gazump. Should we really be swimming the same waters as Everton when it comes to the transfer market?
Look, I hope that Lucas turns out to be the signing of the season. I hope he notches 25 goals and takes to the Premier League like Ruud Van Nistlerooy. But, as a club, we shouldn’t have to hope, we should be confident that a player we have bought will really do the business and take us to another level.
In this case, it feels as though Lucas was simply the player available at the right time, rather than the right player at the right time.