The Gunners got their preseason off to a good start, beating Sydney FC 2-0 in the land down under. Per Mertesacker scored in the fourth minute to give Arsenal the lead, before Alex Lacazette doubled the advantage in the second half.
However, as it is just preseason, the real headline has to do with the team numbers, and who is wearing them.
The Number 9
Unsurprisingly, after splashing a record transfer fee on him, Arsenal allowed Lacazette his choice of numbers. As a striker, he chose the number 9 shirt, taking it away from Lucas Perez.
While certainly not a shocker, this seems indicative of the fact that the want-away Spaniard is not in Wenger’s plans for next season, at least not yet.
Perez is known to have wanted a move for many months, after starting only two Premier League games last season. Until recently, it was thought that former club Deportivo La Coruna would buy the player back.
However, just the other day Tino Fernandez, President of the La Liga outfit, cast doubt on their prodigal son’s return.
“Lucas is at a great club who made a big financial effort for him, there’s a high level there and also the desire of the club is not to look for an exit. We’ve spoken to Arsenal, we were interested and we informed them of that, although it’s true that that was days ago and other things have happened since then, like the fact that he will not be with the team for a few games.”
When asked directly if a return was possible, Fernandez said, “The possibilities are remote.”
There are two possibilities as to why he said this; first, Arsenal could be asking close to the same fee they paid last season ($22.2 million, one of the largest transfer fees ever paid by the club), and therefore pricing out any perspective bidders, or secondly this could just be a negotiation tactic.
If the Gunners find themselves without any suitors for Lucas Perez, they could be willing to accept a much lower bid than they paid for the player. Since no other clubs have been identified as a possible destination, Deoprtivo can afford to play the waiting game.
The Number 28
Speaking of Lucas Perez, he does still have a squad number, taking 28 away from Joel Campbell, who is in the last year of his contract. The Costa Rican has played only 40 times for Arsenal in his six years at the club, and hopes are not high that he will stay.
That was even before his number was taken, and Campbell hasn’t even been assigned a new one.
After his loan at Sporting Lisbon last year, Joel Campbell has been linked with a move to Turkey. Galatasaray are apparently willing to make a deal for the attacker, but only for the right price.
He may be leaving North London for as little as $3.5 million.
The Numbers 10 & 11
Last summer, after Jack Wilshere left for a loan spell at Bournemouth, Mesut Ozil was quoted as saying he wanted the number ten shirt. Now, with Wilshere’s future in doubt, all eyes are on every detail.
Despite the fact he is still injured and in recovery at London Colny, Wilshere has retained his squad number. Ozil started the game in Sydney sporting his number 11 shirt, same as last year.
If Jack Wilshere wasn’t part of Wenger’s plan, like Campbell or Perez, surely he would have given his German playmaker his favored number.
Perhaps this is indicative of the importance Wilshere could play for the Gunners next season.
Time to have your say, Gooners!
Do you think Lucas Perez will stay? How about Joel Campbell? Where could they play next season? Do you want Jack Wilshere to stay at the club?
Let me know in the comments below