Arsenal: Deportivo Striker Linked, Mustafi Deal Back On, Secret Pursuit of French Superstar

Arsenal are leaving their business until the dying embers of this transfer window, and after a quiet spell there was a flurry of news stories late last night.

The first comes from Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, who report that Arsenal have made a £17 million move for Deportivo striker Lucas Perez and the English press have picked this up today.

The 27-year-old forward is also a target for Everton, but Arsenal are believed to have nipped in ahead of them with Perez keen on a move to North London.

The Spaniard scored 17 La Liga goals last season, including a run of scoring in seven consecutive games which broke a club record set by Brazilian great Bebeto.

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Arsenal fans wanting to know more about the player should read this article by the esteemed Spanish football writer Sid Lowe, which included this interesting line:

“Quick, determined, chasing everything, there’s a kind of desperation about the way he plays, a need to win.”

That could just as easily be a description of Arsenal’s early summer target Jamie Vardy. Like Vardy, Perez is a late developer who survived difficult spells in Greece and Ukraine before returning to his boyhood club Deportivo.

In his praise of Leicester City last season, Wenger commented on the hunger possessed by players who had come through without a ‘red carpet.

In one respect, this was Wenger being generous and gracious to the newly crowned champions, but his words also carried a tinge of self-criticism about the way Arsenal treat their young players.

 

The phrase ‘Colney Crèche’ has been used in Arsenal circles to describe the environment; where everything is a bit too comfortable and players cruise along without pushing themselves.

When Wenger spoke of players who have played in the Champions League from 18 years of age, it was clear he was pointing a finger at some of his own ranks.

Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel are all signings who fit the profile of ‘late developer’ and Arsenal’s pursuit of Vardy and Perez suggests Wenger wants to make his team a bit more ‘streetwise’.

He is also available at a relatively modest price, which might prompt Arsenal to finally stump up the funds to secure Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi.

There have been all kinds of horseplay around this deal; Arsenal put the word about that they were looking at alternatives, before Valencia upped their asking price to £50 million and said he was not for sale.

However, Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol tweeted last night that a deal is still very much possible:

Personal terms have been agreed for some time, but Arsenal have failed to come back with an acceptable bid for reasons as yet unknown.

The signing of Perez for £17 million would mean there are plenty of funds left, and despite Rob Holding’s impressive performance at the King Power last week Arsenal need an established centre back.

 

Elsewhere, the Gunners have been involved in a secret, summer-long pursuit of Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann, according to Squawka’s Greg Stobart.

He reports that Arsenal are prepared to spend more than £60 million on the attacker who scored 22 La Liga goals last season, but their plans have been scuppered by the fact Diego Costa has not moved back to Atletico as Wenger anticipated.

Arsenal have snapped up what Wenger would term ‘top, top quality’ late in windows in the past, notably Mesut Özil, and in their pursuit of Perez could be an effort to ensure funds are left should a player of similar stature become available.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Xavier Naltchayan

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