Ayoze Perez’s exhilarating hat-trick against Southampton last week not only helped to continue his club’s remarkable reversal of fortunes but confirmed too that this will be the Spaniard’s most prolific season in a Newcastle shirt.
Since his arrival from Tenerife in the summer of 2014 the skilful forward has both impressed and frustrated, too often only showing glimpses of the brilliance he is capable of while across each of his previous four years in the north-east he has failed to reach double figures in the goal-scoring charts.
Now though that appears to be changing with a series of highly influential displays and given that the 25-year-old cost a meagre £1.5m and given also that he has forged a devastating understanding with new signing Miguel Almiron and loanee Salomon Rondon (though considered the principle front-man Rondon has assisted over half of Perez’s goals this term) things are looking extremely encouraging on the attacking front for the Magpies at present.
Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case with the Tyneside giants, there is some rough to go with the smooth. With the match-ball in his grasp Perez added to the speculation that he may be leaving in the next transfer window, saying as per Chronicle Live: “In the summer there is going to be options. That means I have done something well. I can hear what is coming for me, what they offer for me, and that’s it; but it doesn’t mean I am going to leave 100 per cent at the end of the season. It is going to be a difficult decision. It depends on a lot of things.”
Those ‘things’ are reported to be a concern at being over-looked for international honours and the drawn out undetermined future of Rafa Benitez, while it should be factored in also that divisive owner Mike Ashley will hardly be averse to making a bumper profit on a player bought for peanuts, and recent history – Moussa Sissoko, Gini Wijnaldum – suggests he’s more than capable of doing so.
Staying with the latter facet perhaps for once the widely maligned Ashley would be right to think this way for no matter how good Perez can be when on his game it should additionally be viewed how ineffectual he is when poor. Last season the former Spanish U21 star scored just twice up until February before going on a scoring streak. His output was compensated by endeavour but still, that is a worry. This time out three goals in 25 has been followed by a hot run of eight in 10.
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It is of course not entirely unusual for a striker to experience peaks and troughs in front of goal but that can be over-looked much more when it’s from a traditional number nine – in the vein of Rondon in fact – who buffers a defence around, creating space and chances for others. When the extremes come from a creative outlet it suggests that Newcastle United would be better served seeking out consistency over flashes because it’s these players who the successful teams are built around.
It may go down like a lead balloon with the Geordie faithful but Ashley taking a £25m+ profit on Newcastle’s bargain gem might be the best way forward if astutely reinvested.