Looking ahead to the new season, Ayoze Perez says ‘it will be difficult’.
The midfielder/striker says that with quality players attracted to the Premier League each season and every club improving, competition is going to be fierce back in the Premier League.
Despite this, the Spaniard thinks it is going to be a ‘great year’ for Newcastle United.
When it comes to Ayoze Perez himself, ‘difficult’ is the perfect word when trying to describe how he fits in at St James Park and also, in terms of evaluating whether his attributes are good enough for this Premier League return.
Due to a lack of proper investment in the squad, Perez found himself going straight from the Spanish second tier and into the Premier League when arriving in summer 2014.
Unlike so many foreign players thrown in straight away (far too early) at Newcastle, the then 21 year old did pretty well in the circumstances.
Featuring in 36 of the 38 Premier League matches, Ayoze Perez helped Newcastle just about manage safety with 39 points, picking up seven goals (no assists) in 25 starts and 11 appearances from the bench.
Another poor summer of recruitment (albeit more money spent) and another relegation fight in 2015/16. Once again Perez featured in most (34) PL games, starting 22 and 12 from the bench.
The team relegated this time (2015/16) and Ayoze Perez registering six goals and two assists. The number of matches started and the goals/assists suggested he hadn’t really kicked on after a promising debut season, though in a relegation team it is a bit harder to judge.
Many Newcastle fans thought he would tear up the Championship but he once again didn’t make himself indispensable, Rafa Benitez giving him only 25 of 46 starts with 11 from the bench. Perez sharing the number 10 duties (as well as some games elsewhere) with the equally frustrating Mohamed Diame.
The first five months of the season saw the Spaniard score in only two matches (one at QPR and two at home to Ipswich), though he scored another six goals in the final three and a half months of the campaign.
Eventually ending up with nine goals and six assists, it was a satisfactory season but far below what should be expected if he is to be a major player on the return to the Premier League.
Would Rafa persevere with his countryman? Featuring heavily in the promotion of the new home shirt (see above), it appears the answer is yes. Whilst the likes of the popular Mitrovic were conspicuous by their absence, Perez lined up with the likes of Gayle, Shelvey and other guaranteed first team squad players for next season in modelling the new strip design.
Ayoze Perez has some ability but is it enough to overcome his lack of pace? Drifting through so many games, can he get involved enough to deserve a place in Rafa’s team?
Personally, at best for him, I see Perez having a very similar season to these past three years in terms of his involvement, a mixture of starts and sitting on the bench.
So much rests on the players Rafa Benitez manages to bring in. Ayoze Perez sets a certain standard and my hope is that we bring in better quality who can give more in the top tier.
How many games Perez starts this coming season could be a perfect barometer as to how successful Newcastle are – if the new signings come in and hit the ground running then I see the former Tenerife player spending most of his time watching from the sidelines. However, if he is getting regular football then I think it will be very much a season of struggle, as the new recruits have failed to prove they can offer any more than Perez.
Ayoze Perez league record at Newcastle so far:
2014/15 – 7 goals and 0 assists (25 starts and 11 from bench)
2015/16 – 6 goals and 2 assists (22 starts and 12 from bench)
2016/17 – 9 goals and 6 assists (25 starts and 11 from bench)
“It will be difficult…I say this because every year the Premier League is getting better.
“There’s a lot of quality players coming to the division and it happens year after year.
“Every team improves their squad and spends a lot of money, so we have to be ready.
“We have to think about what we have to do and I think it is going to be a great year for us.
“We are promoted – let’s enjoy it a little bit.
“We have lots of time to think about the Premier League and what we can do as players is make sure that we are ready for it.”
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