The Gunners boss would like to keep the Spaniard but is resigned to him leaving due to a lack of first-team opportunities in the 2016-17 campaign


EXCLUSIVE

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told Lucas Perez that he wants the Spaniard to stay at the club, but is resigned to losing the forward as he cannot promise him regular game time next season.

Perez joined the north Londoners from Deportivo La Coruna after they activated his £17.5 million release clause last summer, but the 29-year-old has not featured on a consistent basis.

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Goal exclusively revealed in February that Perez had set his sights on leaving Arsenal after being left frustrated with his lack of first-team opportunities

“If I am the manager I would love to keep him, but we have to sit down and see if he has a realistic chance to play,” Wenger said towards the end of last season.

“He is a top-quality striker but I could not give him the games he wants and deserves, I confess that. I feel a bit sorry for him.”

Perez believes he has to leave Arsenal to fulfil his ambition of playing for Spain at the 2018 World Cup and several clubs including Sevilla and Deportivo remain locked in talks with the player’s representative.

Wenger met with Perez for talks over his lack of playing time earlier last season, when the player told the Frenchman he was unhappy with his lack of opportunities in the team.

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The Gunners boss has urged the forward to stay and fight for his place at the club but will sanction a transfer if Arsenal receive a viable offer from a team outside the Premier League.

Perez, who has a contract with Arsenal until June 2020, has scored seven goals in 21 appearances in all competitions for Wenger’s side.