Ayoze Perez continues to be one of the most talked about Newcastle players.
Some supporters think the striker is doing a great job, linking midfield and attack, whilst also constantly working back to help the team when defending.
Whilst other fans see a player who contributes next to nothing, is weak on the ball, slow, struggles to keep possession, and has only three assists in the Premier League since arriving in summer 2014, plus has never looked like scoring this season.
Rafa Benitez has spoken positively about the contribution Ayoze Perez is making, though even that splits the Newcastle fanbase.
Some seeing it as a genuine reflection of what the former Tenerife forward has done this season, whilst the other point of view is that the manager is trying to give a player confidence, due to having no alternative (Mohamed Diame?) but to play him.
Perez himself doesn’t seem to have any doubts, talking positively about the season so far, as the squad prepare for Southampton on Sunday.
He says himself that Rafa Benitez ‘has given me a lot of confidence’ and ‘maybe I needed it specifically’.
Ayoze Perez talking about ‘working hard’ and how he is ‘feeling good on the pitch’.
I must admit that at the minute I personally, can’t see what the Spaniard gives the team.
His first season saw seven goals (in 25 league starts, 11 from bench) and he looked a threat, signed as a 20 year old and stepping up from the Spanish second tier, he did really well.
Difficult second season still saw an ok 6 Premier League goals (22 starts, 12 off bench) in the relegation season.
The year in the Championship was another step down for me, did ok with 9 goals but he really should have been tearing that division up, plus with 25 league starts he was sharing that number 10 spot with Mohamed Diame, who was shocking last season.
This time around, I think that whatever he did have in those first two Premier League seasons has disappeared. He is going through the motions for me and maybe believing Rafa Benitez a bit too literally when he is telling him he is doing a great job.
Perez must have loved it when being such a relative success when arriving in England and maybe he is coasting on the back of that.
You look at the contribution the likes of Merino and Ritchie are making, Ayoze Perez isn’t in the same league at the minute.
He can be a much better player than he is showing just now and he scored some very smart goals in his first two top tier seasons.
Has he got the drive to get more in amongst it and make and score goals?
If not, I think he is living on borrowed time and we will see definite action in the January window.
Ayoze Perez talking to NUFC TV:
“I am really happy to be able to have been involved with the team so much.
“The gaffer has given me a lot of confidence and that’s been really important for me.
“I think every player needs it, but maybe I think I needed it specifically, a little bit more.
“It makes me feel more comfortable on the pitch and the ball. It’s been massive for me, really important, and now I have to look after that confidence and give it back to the gaffer as well.
“I’m feeling good on the pitch and trying to help the team as much as I can.
“I’m happy to be part of it and thinking about working hard, getting good results.
“Apart from the two defeats at the beginning, it’s been a great start to the season. We have won a couple of games, which is important, and we are in a good position in the table.
“But the main thing is the football the team is playing, with confidence, and the gaffer is also doing a great job. That combination is really important. We have to carry on doing the same, and playing the same football.
“It’s been a great month before the international break.
“It helps, this kind of break sometimes, to rest and to come back as fit as possible.
“As soon as you’re back in Newcastle you start thinking about your job and the work you have to do, and trying to get ready for the challenge.
“Sometimes to be able to see the family, spend some time at your natural home, it makes you feel better and able to come back happy and ready for whatever is coming up.”