Arsenal officially confirmed the signing of Spaniard Lucas Perez today and, amid all the usual sedate back-slapping and Twitter welcomes, there were a few nuggets of interest that emerged.
A lot of the scepticism that has surrounded the signing of the 27-year-old has centred on the timing and the seemingly haphazard way it was approached.
Many observers – and I count myself among them – questioned whether Arsene swooped to sign Perez because he was the man for the job, or simply because he was one of only a handful of players still available in a shrinking transfer market.
The flirtations with Jamie Vardy and, reportedly, Alexandre Lacazette added weight to those concerns but, in his first interview with the club, Lucas raised an interesting point when asked about his awareness of Arsenal’s interest in him.
Lucas told the official website: “Well, there was some contact when the transfer window opened. As always in football, clubs have to evaluate what they need, but they showed interest when they got in contact. Things happened more quickly towards the end of the window so it could be made official.”
Fascinating. The Spaniard seems to suggest that, far from being last-minute and haphazard, Arsenal’s pursuit of his services was fairly well-established.
He suggests that the club sounded out his agent in the early days of the transfer market, but then appeared to turn their attentions elsewhere, with approaches made for Vardy and Lacazette.
Quite whether Lucas was the only player approached by Arsene will probably remain a mystery but it is interesting to know that, despite popular belief, there was a plan in place for this summer, or at least the semblance of one.
It does suggest that the former Deportivo La Caruna man was not exactly Arsene’s first choice but he was at least, if we take his answer at face value, on the club’s radar.
For me, it’s a little more heartening to know that the player was identified, scouted and then approached at the beginning of the summer, rather than just spotted on a quick scan of YouTube for ‘good strikers’.
But it does beg the question: Why didn’t we move for him when it was clear we weren’t going to land Vardy?
Was Arsene holding out hopes for a Lacazette deal or was he confident enough at being able to land the Spaniard when the time came?
What’s clear is that, with all the messing around after the Vardy affair, Arsenal missed an opportunity to get the player in with the squad, acclimatised and ready to lead the line for the season-opener against Liverpool.
What is done is done, however, and Lucas will now have a week or so to move over to England, settle his family, and begin preparing for life in the Premier League.
Elsewhere in the interview, Lucas talks more about his contact with the club and the factors that convinced him to quit La Liga.
He said: “Well, it was through my agent and through some other players who spoke very highly of Arsenal to me. I was really happy and flattered when I heard about Arsenal’s interest. I was very hopeful to get the chance to come here.”
Some other players? Some of the club’s Spanish contingent perhaps? Were Hector, Nacho and Santi on the phone over the summer, telling their compatriot all about the joys of life in London? Would Arsene trust his transfer plans with his squad members?
All very interesting stuff and curious that the team at Arsenal would include those sorts of extras in a ‘welcome to the club’ interview. Either way, it gives us all a little context to chew on as we settle in for the international break, in which we will all collectively pray that nobody else is injured!