‘I like the player’: Rafael Benitez admits interest in Lucas Perez

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Lucas Perez

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has openly publicly revealed his admiration for Lucas Perez, who has been tipped to leave Arsenal before this month’s transfer deadline.

The Spanish winger had a frustrating debut season with the Gunners last term as he was restricted to just 21 appearances in all competitions – 11 of them in the top-flight.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has already hinted that Perez will part ways with the club due to the competition for places, and Benitez has now expressed his interest.

“I like the player because I have good friends in La Coruña,” Benitez said following the Magpies’ 2-0 friendly win over Hellas Verona. “I know that he did really well. He’s come here and not played in many games, but I like the player. We know what we need and will try to do it until the end of the transfer window.”

Perez did not take part in the Gunners’ pre-season as well as the Community Shield, and his future is more or less away from the Emirates despite having three more years in his contract.

The 28-year-old arrived from Deportivo La Coruna for £17.1m last year, and Wenger is expecting at least £13.4m to offload the wantaway forward this summer.

Otherwise, there could be a temporary deal on the cards for Perez, who is desperate to play regular football in order to break into the Spain national side ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Perez has previously hit out at the north London club for ‘mistreating‘ him after his number 9 shirt was offered to summer recruit Alexandre Lacazette without any intimation.

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