Arsenal flop scores stunning free-kick to earn fallen Champions League giants promotion

Lucas Perez of Deportivo in action
Former Arsenal striker Lucas Perez (L) -Credit:Photo by Luis de la Mata/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former Arsenal player Lucas Perez scored a spectacular free-kick to help his hometown team Deportivo La Coruna secure promotion back to the second tier of Spanish football.

Perez, who once played as a striker for the Gunners, made a significant financial sacrifice of around £500,000 from his own pocket to rejoin Deportivo in January last year. Deportivo's fortunes have taken a turn for the worse since they reached the Champions League semi-finals two decades ago, with the club falling into obscurity.

This season marked their fourth outside of the Spanish second tier, let alone LaLiga. However, thanks to Perez, who has even captained the team at times this term, Depor are now making their way back up.

They secured the title by defeating Barcelona Atletic, essentially Barca's B team, 1-0 at a packed Riazor. Perez fittingly scored the winning goal, netting an impressive free-kick in the 57th minute, as reported by the Sun.

He has contributed 12 league goals this season, along with 17 assists. Upon achieving promotion, the forward told Relevo: "I came to help. I am very happy to see A Coruna like this, very happy to return to professional football with Deportivo; it is joyous.

"When you have the excitement of returning home you always imagine that beautiful things will happen. It's amazing to see the atmosphere and make people happy.

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"To the fans I can only say that thank you very much for everything you have given me and blessed me with. I hope that we are very happy, that they bring us great satisfaction at Depor and that we can all enjoy them together."

Securing a ticket for Deportivo's matches this season has proven to be quite the feat due to the soaring demand. The club boasts a record-breaking 28,500 season ticket holders, while the Riazor stadium has a capacity of 32,490.

Since Deportivo's LaLiga victory in 2000, only giants Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Atletico Madrid have clinched the title. However, financial turmoil eventually led to a downward spiral for the club behind the scenes at Riazor.

Perez kicked off his career with Atletico Madrid, then sought more playing time by transferring to Rayo Vallecano. His journey took him next to Ukrainian outfit Karpaty Lviv, before a switch to Greek side PAOK in 2013.

It was during his second year with PAOK that he embarked on his first loan spell to Deportivo, marking the beginning of four separate tenures at the club. In 2015, Perez made his move to Riazor permanent and, following an impressive stint, Arsenal snapped him up for £17million a year later.

Despite not making his mark at the Emirates, he returned to Deportivo on loan in 2017, and subsequently joined West Ham in 2018. After an understated season with the Hammers, he moved to Alaves, which was followed by stints at Elche and Cadiz.

Leaving Cadiz 18 months ago, Perez took the plunge two divisions down to sign for Deportivo. Yet, with his contract nearing its end, it's uncertain if he will remain to take a shot at the second division.