I am what I drink and I’m a bitter man. The Spanish equivalent probably involves milk. It’s a big thing in Iberian sayings, milk, and I’m sure there’s something somewhere which fits Lucas Perez’s current mood. And that’s angry, disappointed, and ready to ‘do one’.
The Spaniard is upset that Arsenal gave ‘his’ number 9 shirt to Alexandre Lacazette. It tops off what will become known as the Curious Case of Lucas Perez. To this day, he was a signing foisted upon Arsène, we assume. A player we passed up on, only to return to when all other options – and I mean, all – had failed to materialise.
As if. This is a manager who the board can’t even force to accept a change in structure without it becoming so watered down that the government are thinking of employing him as an advisor on how to do that with every piece of legislation passed due to public pressure.
You may recall we outmuscled Everton for the deal. We don’t have a great track record when it comes to bidding wars, do we? Almost all of our deals since 2011’s trolley dash have been ‘free runs’ at players. Clubs sniff around but we’re usually the only (publicly) acknowledged suitors; Alexis, aside.
Park Chu-young probably wishes we hadn’t hijacked his move to Lille so disastrous was his time in north London. Arsène Wenger probably thinks the same. Or Arsène 2.0 does; he’s well hard now, not letting players move because they are under contract or not letting players move because they aren’t selling for inflated values.
Arsène will never cut it as a wheeler-dealer; for a start, he whizzes out of Colney too quickly to stop and wind his window down. And he doesn’t have a camel-hair coat. I bet Harry Redknapp has a camel-hair coat; he’s got to. That and a Trilby. He’s got a minder as well. Called Terry, formerly employed by HMRC as Rosie proved wholly unreliable as a tax advisor.
Back to the point
Which I’ve wandered from, I freely admit. Perez was never more than a squad player but given the number 9 seems to have played as a psychological game. He’s just about old enough to remember the days of 1 – 11 and the time when they took to the field at kick-off. Some shirt numbers retain a kudos in football which stretch beyond club boundaries and ‘9’ is one of them.
Did it raise expectations in his mind? Seemingly so but if promised more than a bit part role, Arsenal failed to deliver. A pity because I think he’s a decent player. Not starting line-up material at Arsenal but certainly one who should regularly appear from the bench and/or in the cup competitions.
He didn’t particularly but that had more to do with the low numbers of injuries suffered in his favoured roles. We got a hint of what was possible with a hat-trick in Basel. Seven goals in 21 games but five of them game in two matches, underlining just how frequently he was on the bench. He was, to my mind at least, better equipped and more useful to the XI than Joel Campbell.
However, come in number 9, your time is up. Excluded from the Australasia tour, it was obvious he was in the area of the dressing room known as ‘Death Row’. Players who are on the fringe of the squad, who know they are on their way out, all congregate in the far corner, careful not let others read their ‘Whatsapp’ group messages.
Over ‘ere, son. On me peg
He’s not the only one wondering what’s going on. Kieran Gibbs didn’t so much fall from grace as plummet. Carl Jenkinson, likewise. Both are wanted by mid-table teams, neither is leaving any time soon as Arsenal aren’t benefitting from the largesse others are being shown.
Which is a problem. We don’t want to be taken for mugs but there’s a fine line between not selling at a reasonable price and not selling at all. We’re perilously close to the latter, no matter how much pleasure we derive from annoying Tony Pulis. It was reassuring the other day to find that he and Mark Hughes both found Arsène to be the manager they lost most games against while Wenger himself beats Sam Allardyce more often than any other manager.
And I should probably leave the subject there, with that image stuck firmly in your head of Arsène in some Pulp Fiction styled basement with Pulis, Hughes and Allardyce as his gimps.
Anyway, so long and thanks for all the fish, Lucas. And the others who’ve worn the red and white with a certain amount of pride.