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Arsene Wenger wants to keep Lucas Perez at Arsenal

Lucas Perez in action during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium
Image: Lucas Perez has scored seven Arsenal goals this season, despite starting just nine games

Arsene Wenger says it is understandable that Lucas Perez is considering his Arsenal future after just one season.

Wenger paid Deportivo La Coruna £17m for Perez just before August's transfer deadline, when Danny Welbeck was out with a long-term knee injury while Olivier Giroud was unfit after Euro 2016.

But Alexis Sanchez was initially preferred as a lone striker, and both Giroud and Welbeck have since had runs in the side, restricting Perez to just nine starts in all competitions.

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The Spaniard has still registered seven goals, including a Champions League hat-trick at Basel, and in an interview last week he said: "I think I've deserved to play more".

Wenger, asked at his pre-Southampton press conference if he sympathised, said: "Yes, of course. He's a top-quality striker and I couldn't give him the games that he wants and that he deserves. I must confess that.

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Arsenal 2-0 Manchester Utd

"I feel sorry for him on that front, but we have more strikers available now because we had the situation where Olivier Giroud was not clear at the start of the season.

"We didn't know when Danny Welbeck would come back and in the end there was a congestion there but that doesn't take anything away from his quality.

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Arsene Wenger still believes his side has a chance of finishing in the top four of the Premier League

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"If I'm the manager, I would love to keep him. We have to sit down together and see if he has a reasonable chance to play next season or not."

Perez has also spent time out injured but is available for Wednesday's game at St Mary's after recovering from a thigh problem.

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