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Newcastle: Ashley played a blinder with Ayoze Perez sale

Newcastle United supporters rarely had any reason to praise Mike Ashley during his turbulent ownership of the club, although one case in which the St James’ Park faithful may well applaud the Englishman is regarding the sale of former Magpies striker Ayoze Perez.

The forward had been signed for a fee of just £1.5m from Tenerife in 2014, with reports suggesting that he had even snubbed the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in order to come to the Premier League, having scored 17 goals and provided seven assists in 51 games for his previous club.

The versatile attacker quickly became a key figure for the Tynesiders over the next few years, eventually racking up 195 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring 48 goals and supplying 17 assists.

That five-year spell notably saw the former Spain under-21 international prove integral in securing promotion out of the Championship in 2017 – having scored nine league goals – while he also netted 12 top-flight goals in his final campaign at the club in 2018/19.

Having been a key figure under compatriot Rafael Benitez, the departure of the former Liverpool boss ultimately sparked Perez’s exit from St James’ Park, with the 5 foot 10 menace opting to join Leicester City in 2019.

Although something of a blow at the time, the decision to sanction the Spaniard’s departure has become to look a real masterstroke by those at Newcastle, with Ashley having played a blinder in securing a hefty £30m fee for a player who was a reliable, yet far from prolific, goalscorer.

Now valued at a measly £9m by Transfermarkt, the 29-year-old has endured a real decline since his departure from St James’ Park, with reports earlier this summer having even suggested that he could secure a move elsewhere.

As Leicester now face the prospect of losing him for nothing next summer with less than a year left on his current contract, that £30m windfall now looks even more astute by Ashley and co – particularly considering that those funds were subsequently used to help secure the £16.5m arrival of current talisman Allan Saint-Maximin later that summer.