It’s pretty clear that Newcastle United want a new striker this summer.
So far, they’ve been linked with the likes of Diego Rolan, Cédric Bakambu and Danny Ings, but none of those deals have come off as yet.
They were also gazumped by Swansea City in the chase for Tammy Abraham.
Dwight Gayle managed 23 goals for Rafa Benítez’s side last season in the Championship – only Leeds United’s Chris Wood scored more, but it is clear that the Spaniard wants someone else for the No.9 role.
Joselu may be close to joining, but according to The Sun, he may be joined by Lucas Pérez, with both Newcastle and Brighton and Hove Albion reportedly targeting the £20million-rated man.
A viable target
Arsenal parted with £17million to secure the signing of the former Deportivo La Coruña man last summer, but he failed to make an impact at the Emirates.
Due to a combination of factors, including Pérez being injured and the form of both Alexis Sánchez and Olivier Giroud, the Spaniard made just the two Premier League starts last campaign.
In fact, he only played 265 league minutes over 11 games throughout the entire 2016/17 season.
Pérez arrived in England in the form of his life having netted 17 goals and providing a further eight assists during his final season in La Liga.
He was scoring, creating and he almost single-handedly kept Deportivo in the Spanish top flight.
His form lead to him being link with a move away with Barcelona being mentioned, and it felt like Pérez was a coup for the Gunners.
But it has all gone wrong, and back in February it was clear he was set for a move away from Arsenal.
His agent, Rodrigo Fernández Lovelle, told Calciomercato his client wanted out:
“If Lucas leaves London – and he will leave because he’s had no chance with Wenger – he wants to go and play for a big club like Arsenal.
“Look, the truth is that Lucas wants to leave at all costs and is not happy at Arsenal, he hasn’t settled and hasn’t had a chance to play and show what he can do.
“No matter who is the manager in the future, we want to go. The player must have the opportunity to play.”
That transfer hasn’t taken place yet, but with the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette, who has taken the Spaniard’s No.9 shirt, it is clear there is no future for him in North London.
Former club Deportivo want him, but they have had a €12million bid rejected, and according to La Voz de Galicia, they are confident of a deal, but if Newcastle want their man, they can definitely outbid the Spanish side.
Perhaps Newcastle, with their 52,000-capacity stadium, as well as some of the best fans in the country, are the big club he would like to move to.
Of course, they are a newly-promoted side, but you have to remember the club’s history, and take into account that their manager is Benítez, who has two La Liga titles and a Champions League victory to his name.
An impressive player
The truth is, whenever Pérez has been called upon, he’s hardly let himself down at Arsenal.
It’s just he has had few opportunities to prove himself, and he’ll get even fewer chances with the signing of club-record striker Lacazette.
He scored twice against Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup, grabbed a hat-trick against Basel in the Champions League, netted in the comeback against Bournemouth in the Premier League and opened the scoring against Sutton United in the FA Cup.
The 28-year-old also contributed in terms of assists with two against Ludogorets and one each in games against Southampton and Preston North End.
Last season he got seven goals and three assists as a bit-part player, so Newcastle and Benítez will surely be wondering what he can achieve if he becomes a starter.
His last year at Deportivo – where he had so much success – would perhaps point to that, with Newcastle, like his former club, a side who aren’t expected to challenge for Europe this season.
He could thrive as a big fish in a little pond – of course Newcastle aren’t a small team at all, but there won’t be the expectation for European football or competition for places that there was at Arsenal, and perhaps it’s that sort of environment that Pérez thrives in.
His versatility is also something that would be a huge bonus to the Magpies if they were to land him, he could play either as the main No.9, or supplement a fellow striker.
The Arsenal striker has a variety of strengths but one of the most underrated ones is his ability to link play.
For him to be fully appreciated he needs runners around him and he would get that at St James’ Park, with the likes of Gayle, Jacob Murphy, Christian Atsu, Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Pérez.
In the two stills above you see Pérez’s involvement in the opening Arsenal goal.
First of all he positions himself between the Southampton centre-back pairing, before dropping deep to offer himself up for the pass.
Because of the movement around him he’s able to play a delightful ball around the corner which puts Danny Welbeck in for the opener.
It’s simple on the part of Pérez but it shows he’s aware of what’s around him as well as emphasising the fact he’s not lazy.
In the stills above, from the same tie, you can see his intelligence.
Pérez finds himself in a lot of space as the attack builds and this isn’t by chance, it’s because he holds his position purposely.
The ball finds him and due to him being in space he’s able to take a touch before threading a ball through the position centre-back pairing and into the path of the player making the run from deep who feeds it back across goal, allowing Theo Walcott to tap home.
Pérez will want to be playing regularly to keep his outside hopes of reaching Spain’s World Cup squad alive.
As Michu showed, if you take your chances in England, you may get an international call up. And should Pérez get 15 or more goals for Newcastle, you imagine he’d be vying to get on that plane to Russia, with the Magpies delighted that they found their perfect No.9.