Is Lucas Perez the man to support Romelu Lukaku up front at Everton?
Speculation was rife at Goodison Park this summer over the future of Everton’s leading marksman Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian hit 27 goals in all competitions for Roberto Martinez’s underachieving Toffees side, and for many weeks it looked a foregone conclusion that the forward would be returning to former club Chelsea to deal with some “unfinished business” at Stamford Bridge.
But as the rumours cooled, it became apparent that the Belgian would remain on Merseyside for at least one more season under the tutelage of new Everton boss Ronald Koeman, who subsequently has gone about plotting to recruit a forward in the ideal mould to support Lukaku in Everton’s attack next year to provide another source of goals and relieve the pressure on the forward.
It seems apparent that the club have now discovered the type of forward they are looking for, and they have acted quickly to open talks with their target; Deportivo La Coruna striker Lucas Perez.
With £13.5million January signing Oumar Niasse told he has no future at Everton, Koeman has been seeking out another forward with his options in attack feeling somewhat short-handed, and Perez has certainly proven himself as a goalscorer in La Liga with Depor, after managing 17 goals in 36 league outings for the Galician club last season.
`The 27-year-old would be likely to command a fee of roughly £15million, and is certainly used to coming into a new club and making a huge impact. He first arrived at the Riazor on-loan in the summer of 2014 from Greek club PAOK Salonika, with Deportivo fresh from promotion from the Liga Adelante. Perez hit six important goals, including a strike against Barcelona in a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou that helped Depor stave off relegation in that season, a campaign where he spent much time on the sidelines with a knee injury. After signing a permanent deal he has gone from strength to strength with Depor as they have re-established themselves in Spain’s top flight.
He is also a completely different style of forward to Lukaku, which would add a new dimension to Everton’s attack under Koeman and enable the partnership to blossom from feeding off each other’s differing attributes. Whereas Lukaku is a target man, strong and able to hold up the ball as well as score goals, Perez is a much nippier forward, who looks to play in and play off teammates with clever, incisive passing in the final third, is capable of retaining possession through his low centre of gravity and enjoys coming inside and having efforts from distance. His aerial ability is lacking as well as his defensive contribution, though this is where Lukaku would provide the ideal partner in winning aerial duels, with Perez around to pick up the pieces and either create a chance for himself, Lukaku or another team-mate.
He looks set to continue in his rich vein of goalscoring form also, having netted in his only appearance for the club this season, a 2-1 win over Eibar.
Just on the verge of entering his prime as a forward, his tally in La Liga shows that he is an improving player and would have much to offer Everton, particularly given his ability to make a telling difference given the fashion in which he started his Depor career. The support of another goalscorer in Lukaku would free up Perez to drop-off and thrive in a deeper Number Ten role where he could not only wreak havoc with his goals but act as a real creative presence for Koeman’s side.
He is seen as a forward in the same mould as Jamie Vardy by Everton’s Director of Football Steve Walsh, who is a long-term admirer of the Spaniard, and thus would also be capable of leading the line on his own in Lukaku’s absence were the Belgian to succumb to injury this season. Everton’s leading marksman last term made his comeback from injury during the weekend at West Bromwich Albion, but with the lack of out-and-out forward options at the club, Everton have started he last two games without a recognised centre-forward, thus Perez’s arrival would be a welcome addition to a threadbare forward line.
With Koeman keen to recruit another forward and Perez very much on the radar of the club, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 27-year-old arrive at Goodison before the transfer window closes. He has all the qualities to add something different to the frontline for the Merseyside club and be the ideal partner for Romelu Lukaku to serve and feed off for more goals, but whether or not any potential partnership would be allowed to blossom would depend firstly on whether or not the forward arrives, and whether Koeman can keep both fit and firing for the majority of the season. With little to nothing in reserve, he will need them to be.
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