Lucas Perez thinks Arsene Wenger 'is going to continue' as Arsenal manager
Arsenal forward Lucas Perez expects Arsene Wenger to stay on as manager and insists he has "a very good relationship" with the 67-year-old despite his limited playing time.
Perez has failed to break into Arsenal's regular starting lineup since his arrival from Deportivo La Coruna last summer and his agent has previously hinted at a move away from the Emirates Stadium at the end of the season.
But the Spaniard told Radio Marca that he is happy at the club and that he wants Wenger to extend his contract, which expires this summer.
"Although I'm not a starter, I have a very good relationship with Wenger. He is an icon and I think he is going to continue," Perez said. "People respect him. His relationship with the players is very good and he has been here 20 years. I would like him to continue but that's his decision. He has not communicated his decision to the team or the club yet."
Perez has only been given nine starts by Wenger but has still scored seven goals and registered five assists for the club.
But while players including Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck remain ahead of him in the pecking order, Perez said he is determined to fight for his chance.
"A team like Arsenal has very good players, especially in attack. The coach can only choose 11 and the only thing I can do is make the most of the chances I'm given," he said. "Whenever I've played, I've done well and that gives me confidence. I have to be patient and continue to fight.
"This [move to Arsenal] has been an opportunity to progress and not just from a sporting standpoint. It has been an opportunity to join one of the best teams in the world and that is why I'm very satisfied. I was unlucky to be injured the first few months since I arrived at Arsenal. I now feel capable of showing why Arsenal signed me and I try to make the most of the opportunities I'm given."
With Arsenal currently sitting sixth in the Premier League table, six points off the top four, they face a real challenge in qualifying for next season's Champions League.
Perez, however, is confident of a strong end to the season and securing a top-four spot, as well as success in the FA Cup.
"We are enthusiastic about qualifying for the Champions League, something this club has been able to achieve in other campaigns," he said. "We've got two games less [in hand] and we are focusing on the games we have left as well as looking forward to playing the semifinals against Manchester City in the FA Cup."
Former Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires was part of Wenger's "Invincibles" squad from 2003-2004 and now works as a coach at the club's training centre in Hertfordshire.
And the 43-year-old told Spanish radio station Cadena SER he believes Wenger has the desire to remain, but things have to be done differently going forwards.
"In my opinion, he will renew his contract, at least for one season. He is motivated and willing," Pires said. "Arsene has an offer on the table. He has to sign it. He has the backing of the owner. The fans want to win the title and Arsenal are not doing that well. They are in the FA Cup semifinals.
"He has to continue and if he does, he needs to change many things. That is the most important thing for him and for Arsenal.
"We will see what happens."
ESPN FC's La Liga correspondent Adriana Garcia and Press Association contributed to this report.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.