Santi Cazorla has told his Arsenal compatriot Lucas Perez to be patient as he will have the chance to prove his worth at the Emirates Stadium sooner rather than later. Yet, the midfielder admits that right now Alexis Sanchez looks to be Arsene Wenger's first choice for the number nine role as the Chilean international is thriving in the position.
Lucas moved to north London in the closing days of the summer transfer window after proving to be one of the sensations of La Liga last season, scoring 17 goals and setting up a further 10 to his Deportivo la Coruna teammates to help his side avoid relegation. Wenger agreed to pay his £17m ($21m) release clause in order to provide competition to Olivier Giroud up front after the Frenchman struggled to deliver last term.
Lucas started in the 2-1 victory over Southampton only days after his arrival before scoring a brace in the EFL Cup tie against Nottingham Forest. Yet, the Arsenal striker has since only played two minutes during the 4-1 demolition over Hull as Wenger has opted to use Sanchez up front in the following games with Chelsea, Basel and Burnley. Lucas missed the latest one due to a slight knee injury.
But asked during an interview with Cadena Cope whether his compatriot is already frustrated about the lack of playing time, Cazorla said: "Lucas is a great guy. We have a very good relationship. Probably he expected to play more but I have told him to be patient."
"The beginnings in a new club are not easy. But he's happy, he is aware that he has made an important change in his career. He will need to be patient but he hopes to play a lot during the season because the team trust in him. He is training very well and scored two goals in the Cup. He will be an important player during the season."
Nevertheless, Cazorla believes that Sanchez is "making the difference" in the new role and Wenger could consider keeping the Chilean up front through the season, having already scored five goals and provided a further five in nine appearances.
"Alexis is fundamental for us. He makes the difference wherever he plays. No matter the position. Due to different circumstances he is playing as the number nine because Giroud arrived later from the Euro and Lucas was signed in the last days of the transfer window," Cazorla said.
"Wenger is keeping him up front and I think that as soon as he continues this form he will continue playing there. Then I do not know whether he will play as a striker during the whole season because we also have two other very good strikers in Giroud and Lucas. But right now Alexis is giving much as a striker."