The Spaniard has netted 8 goals since the turn of the year, not only being the hat-trick hero in our 3-1 at the weekend, but scoring crucial goals in recent wins over Everton and Leicester.
His contribution has been massive of late, both on and off the ball, and the skipper has revealed just how good he’s been in training recently – also praising the 25-year-old for constantly doing the ‘dirty work’:
“He is a massive player for us, that’s his 10th Premier League goal. It would be nice to keep him,”
“Recently he has been unreal, in training and in games,”
“He’s not the fastest of players but he just skips by players. I don’t know what it is, his balance or his dribbling.
“He works so hard, too. He is up there with the most interceptions [made] as well, most tackles. He does do a lot of the dirty work, as well as scoring goals. He has been a key player for us this season.
“He is so smart. We’ve got a runner on one side with Miguel, and Ayo likes it to his feet and to link play. I think we have really found a good balance.
“With the change of formation, I guess that suits him really well, just right of the front three.”
He’s had his critics, but his boo boys have been well and truly silenced now, with him not only scoring huge goals but working hard and showing signs of improved his all round play, seeing him link the play nicely and lose possession far less regularly.
The Chronicle claim that there’s at least three La Liga sides who’ve shown interest ahead of the summer window, so that combined with his wish to return to Spain will be a big concern.
There’s been talk that we will demand up to £35m for his services this summer, however he’s one of Benitez’s favourites and priceless in the way in which he works both on and off the ball in this system.