With Newcastle back in the Premier League next season, it has been an interesting season for 23 year old Ayoze Perez. After completing his third full season at the club, has he delivered on his early promise and will he be a key part of the squad moving forward?
Impressive first season
Perez arrived under the radar for a fee of just £2m in the summer of 2014. A few excellent substitute appearances saw him quickly win a place in the side. A return of 7 league goals for a then 20 year old in his first year in England was impressive. Most fans expected him to continue to develop and keep adding to his tally.
6 league goals in his second year in the premiership was not enough to help us stay up and his development had clearly begun to stall. Rafa coming in meant having a fellow Spaniard would hopefully help him push on reach the heights when he first arrived.
Perez has underwhelmed this season though. He has finished the season well and his goal against Barnsley highlighted his quality, when on form. But a return of 9 goals from 36 appearances is disappointing in a league which he should have shone in.
The physical nature of the Championship may not have helped him but the main criticism of him is he is not clinical enough. Not reaching double figures this year, although it is his season return for the club, has not answered doubts on his long term future.
What is his best position?
Perez has occupied a few different positions during his time at the club. He was initially used as a lone striker by Alan Pardew. Although physically he doesn’t appear do possess the traits for the role, he has arguably showed some promise in this position.
Good work rate and famously scoring a winner against Liverpool, Perez certainly isn’t a bad option to have as a striker. Of course, we want a regular 20 goal a season man too, which he will never be, but he has proved he can step into the striker role if needed.
As his Newcastle career has went on, Ayoze has spent most of his time in the number 10 role. Although he is a clever player, I don’t think this role has been successful for him. He often goes missing in games and lacks the vision to make this role truly his own.
With Rafa opting for a 4-5-1 formation most games, Perez needs to find a role in this system. Interestingly, after watching the last three years, I think he has looked best cutting in from the left in the LW position. Rafa did not use his there this season, giving the berth to Gouffran in the main. He doesn’t score enough goals to be a main striker and lacks the composure to be a great number 10.
He has a good work rate, is good for 6-10 goals a season and has decent dribbling. Perhaps LW could be something for Rafa to consider next year.
Role next season?
It is hard to not to think Perez will have anything a squad role moving forward at NUFC. He has talent and a great attitude but has not pushed on after 3 years in the North East. We certainly are not in a position to sell players like Perez at the moment, as we have such little Premiership quality strength and depth going forward.
The fact he has linked with Barcelona when joining the club and the only suitors after we were relegated were Las Palmas shows Ayoze has not developed as expected. However, he is a good option to have and expect him to remain on Tyneside, for now at least.