Arsene Wenger has started to revamp the Arsenal first team this summer. He has brought in a tough left-back in Saed Kolasinac after Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs underwhelmed last season, and he landed Alexandre Lacazette, who appears to be the world-class forward that the Gunners have needed for so long.
Arsenal will be looking towards some new faces this season, and Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Lucas Perez are two players who deserve chances this campaign.
Kolasinac is taking Jeff Reine-Adelaide’s No. 31 shirt for the upcoming season, indicating that the 19-year-old midfielder will receive a lower shirt number and therefore a bigger role in the first team. With the conversion to the 3-4-3 system at the end of last season, Reine-Adelaide’s skill set could see him play as both a central midfielder and as a winger in the front three.
Reine-Adelaide impressed during the Emirates Cup in the summer of 2015 when he played as a winger, but he spent more time as a No.10 when he appeared in cup competitions this past season. At 6’0″, his height could be useful in the centre of the park for defensive purposes. He has skills that can turn defenders inside-out, so he should see more time threatening the defence as a winger in the front three.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain flourishing as a wing-back, the squad is slightly thin on the wing for the upcoming season. The first-choice front three will undoubtedly be Mesut Ozil on the right, Alexis Sanchez on the left, and Alexandre Lacazette through the middle, but after that, forwards like Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Lucas Perez, Alex Iwobi, and Olivier Giroud will either be battling for backup spots or leaving the club. This gives the young Frenchman a chance to live up to the hype and finally break into the first team.
Lucas Perez proved last season that he deserves playing time in more meaningful games than the EFL Cup ties that he dominated in. He scored eight goals in nine starts, while making 12 appearances as a substitute The most convincing statistic that shows he should play a bigger role is the fact that he scored three of his goals as a right midfielder, cutting in on his left foot. He made just two starts at that position, but his prolificity should not be overlooked by Wenger like it was last season.
Perez netted twice while leading the line in three EFL Cup matches while playing with fellow attackers that were either teenagers, debutants, or both. It shows his ability to make the best of any situation he is in and that he can take it upon himself to lead the attack when needed. That type of determination and leadership is needed in the Arsenal team.
Although Lucas’ No. 9 shirt was just taken by Alexandre Lacazette, a silver lining to his Arsenal future is the fact that he was still given a number for the upcoming season.
With his ability to play on the right, Lucas will be a goalscoring alternative to Ozil. Against weaker sides, the two could probably play together, with Ozil in midfield and Perez up front on the right. If he does not move on during this transfer window, Wenger should play him in a few meaningful games to see definitively if he can contribute in the league. If Wenger continues to leave him out in the cold, he’ll just be a Europa League and EFL Cup regular until January rolls around.
Reine-Adelaide and Perez are in two different stages of their careers, but they both have a lot to prove. Each player is dangerous in a different way and both have versatility that is valued by every team in football.
If Arsenal don’t manage to bring in any new attackers like Thomas Lemar or Riyad Mahrez, these two men have the potential to be like new signings.