December 28

The perfect alternative to Jamie Vardy – Arsenal’s new signing assessed

first_imgArsenal have had a productive end to the transfer window, signing striker Lucas Perez, as well as Shkodran Mustafi. Here, reveal what sort of player the Gunners could be getting in the Spanish forward.It may have taken until the penultimate day of the summer transfer window, but Arsenal on Tuesday finally announced the capture of a striker. The Gunners have long been linked with a host of frontman in recent months, with Jamie Vardy, Gonzalo Higuain and Alexandre Lacazette either turning down a transfer to the Emirates or moving elsewhere before confirming the arrival of Lucas Perez from La Liga side Deportivo La Coruna.Perez may not be the headline grabbing frontman fans craved when they heard of Arsenal’s solid interest in him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective capture for the Gunners. Deportivo netted just 45 league goals last season. The 27-year-old was directly involved in 25 of those (17 goals, 8 assists), while he’s scored or assisted more goals (27) than any other Spanish player in La Liga since the start of last season. Deportivo’s loss is evidently Arsenal’s gain.After the move for Vardy broke down, it’s little wonder Wenger sought out Perez. The England international thrives on a counter attacking approach, hanging on the shoulder of the last defender to capitalise on any opposition break down in play. It’s an approach that served the player and Leicester well. Only Harry Kane (25) netted more goals than Vardy (24) in the Premier League last season as the Foxes secured domestic glory.News of Arsenal’s interest in Vardy ultimately suggested a change in tact for the Gunners, who in recent years have deployed a possession-based approach under Arsene Wenger. Yet, a more direct style of play isn’t completely alien to Wenger, having implemented this approach in the earlier years of his reign. The capture of Granit Xhaka also hinted that this was a possibility. The Swiss averaged more accurate long balls per game (7.4) than any other outfield player in the Bundesliga last season.Xhaka has the vision and technique to help spring rapid attacks, which suits a player of Vardy’s ilk. With Perez, the Gunners boss will now hope the new arrival can transfer his fine La Liga form to the Premier League, but much of that hinders on how Wenger sets his side up from now. No team scored more counter attacking goals than Deportivo (7) in La Liga last season, four of which were courtesy of Perez.Only Cristiano Ronaldo (19) had more shots from counter attacking situations than Perez (10) in Spain’s top tier last term. With last season largely being Perez’s first as a striker, it proved to be a hugely effective one for the Spaniard and presents Wenger with another attacking option or a possibility to alter the shape of the team entirely, with Perez deployed behind Olivier Giroud. 60 key passes from open play was the fourth highest return in La Liga last season and reinforced his statistically calculated strength of ‘key passes’.Should Wenger keep with a 4-2-3-1 formation, there is the possibility of fielding Perez, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in behind Giroud, though a 4-3-1-2 formation would perhaps suit the former better, with Ozil behind Perez and Giroud.While he may not have been Wenger’s number one striking target this summer, Perez could prove to be an astute pick up should the Arsenal boss feel the need to revert to a direct style of play. He won’t grab the headlines as much as the signing of Higuain or Lacazette would have done, but the uncapped Spaniard can make a lasting impact in the Premier League provided his new manager plays to his strengths.For more stats on Lucas Perez, click here to view his player page Lucas Perez in action for Deportivo La Coruna 1last_img read more