Lucas Perez could become Arsenal's first departure of the summer after the player's agent confirmed that the club had been informed of his wish to leave. The Spanish forward has struggled to make a real impact in English football since his £17.1m ($22m) release clause at Deportivo La Coruna was triggered in August 2016, starting just nine times across all competitions and only twice in the Premier League.
Speaking after official public confirmation of his two-year contract extension yesterday, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger strongly hinted that Arsenal, in addition to working hard to secure prominent new signings, would look to offload a selection of players during the upcoming transfer window in order to reduce a first-team squad that he evidently views as too bloated.
Perez would presumably be a strong candidate to move on, with representative Rodrigo Fernandez Lovelle previously admitting that the 28-year-old would like to return to Deportivo and that the club remain his first option.
Depor president Tino Fernandez reciprocated that interest by insisting that such a signing was a priority. He did however admit there would be financial difficulties involved in any deal and expressed doubt that Perez would be permitted to leave Arsenal either on loan or on a permanent basis.
Addressing his client's future again this week, Lovelle claimed that he had been informed that Arsenal would not block his exit but would inevitably demand a fair price from any suitor.
"We have spoken with Arsenal and we have explained that we want to leave," he was quoted as saying by AS. "They have said that they are not going to put obstacles in the way, but they are not going to give the player away as a gift either."
Wenger has been sympathetic to Perez's plight, stating last month that he understood the frustrations of a player whom he labelled a "top-quality striker". He said he felt sorry that he had not been able to offer him many regular opportunities, but insisted that the availability of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck had created a fair amount of congestion in terms of his forward options.
"I would love to [keep Perez at Arsenal]," he confirmed. "If I am the manager, I would love to keep him. We would have to sit down together to see if he has a reasonable chance to play next season."
Deportivo's La Liga rivals, Sevilla, have also been linked with a potential swoop for Perez. Reports from Italy in February suggested that AC Milan were hoping to secure his signature with a bid in the region of £17m.