According to Shields Gazette reporter Miles Starforth, Ayoze Perez has spoken to him like it’s his last season at St James’ Park during recent interviews.
It must be said that the vast majority of interviews from the Spaniard have seen him cast doubt over his future at the club recently, but it seems he is now attracting interest from some European heavyweights following his rise to form in 2019.
The likes of Napoli, Inter Milan and Arsenal have been linked, while he’s said to have received interest from several La Liga sides – something that seems significant given he’s often talked up a return to his homeland.
“I’ve spoken to length to Perez in recent weeks after various games and he’s certainly got a question mark in his mind whether he will be here next season.
“I think he’s tempted by a new challenge, he’s tempted by a club which is competing for Europe, for trophies and you can’t blame him really. Rafa was asked about Perez, he’s suggested he could still be talked round – whether that would involve a new and improved contract.
“I’ve spoken to Perez a few times in recent weeks and he’s talking as if it’s his last season.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Perez’s mindset changes should Rafa sign a new deal this summer, with the Spaniard often talking about our ambition and the influence his compatriot has both on and off the pitch.
If Perez leaves this summer for Champions League football I’m not sure we could blame him.
After all, he’s now worked his socks off AND got into double figures across the past three seasons, yet it feels like he’s only silenced his doubters over the past few months, with so many inside St James’ Park getting on his back during the first half of the season.
We’ll manage if we get big money and Benitez is given it to spend on a proper replacement, however a player who fits into Rafa’s system, scores big goals and works so hard won’t be easy to find if we’re unwilling to pay £20m plus.