It’s hard not to feel that right now that it’s a good time to be a Newcastle United fan.

Safety secured.

The Mackems in League One.

The fact Rafael Benitez is still the manager of Newcastle United. Time to enjoy a nice end to the season for once.

Yet as we know all too well from the Mike Ashley reign, things can change quickly. This summer is critical for the future of the club, for that reason. We may be ending the season strongly, and need to enjoy the moment, but also be on our guard for August when the points are reset to zero.

Selling our better players has been something of a constant in the Ashley era. We have seen Andy Carroll, Yohan Cabaye, Gini Wijnaldum, Demba Ba and others depart SJP over recent years in the pursuit of profit, with little thought for the on field consequences.

Inevitably, such actions make staying in this division much harder, when this is the club policy. Eventually, trying to constantly replace your best players catches up with you. Just look at Southampton this season.

This summer feels like a crossroads for this exact reason. The takeover may dominate the early talk but it’s the squad strength that will be the real key for Rafa Benitez. Holding onto our best players will be crucial, particularly Ayoze Perez.

Perez in recent weeks has been magnificent, not just his crucial goals, but his all round play and movement. He has always shown glimpses of brilliance since his arrival in Toon, four years ago this summer.

Under Rafa Benitez though he has become a key cog in a well oiled machine, and looks better suited to English football than ever before. His strength in possession, and balance, is far better than during a slightly underwhelming season in the Championship last year.

The expert finishes against Huddersfield, Leicester and Arsenal showcase a player who has matured into arguably the best natural finisher at the club.

The goal against Leicester in particular was one of his best in four years at the club, aware of the positioning of all opposition players around him, before chipping Kasper Schmeichel exquisitely.

Like Lascelles, Dummett and even Jonjo Shelvey. Perez is a player who seems to be really benefiting from two years of Benitez style coaching. The flaws in his game seem far less exposed than they have been in previous seasons and there is no doubt that Rafa is a major factor in the resurgence.

He certainly sees Perez as a hugely important member of the team, even when others have criticised his position in the team.

This was demonstrated within months of Benitez’ arrival at SJP. For a number of games in the run-in, Rafa resolved that he could not play Perez and Gini Wijnaldum in the same XI. It was Perez who was given the starts, even though Wijnaldum was our top scorer at the time, and one of the few standout players in a poor team. He clearly saw something in Perez that he liked and since then he has looked a different player.

When he first arrived in England, Ayoze’s game seemed based around poaching and relying on brilliant instinctive finishing. He scored wonderful goals in his first season against West Brom (home and away) Liverpool and Arsenal but it was mainly pure penalty box play. His build-up play was hampered slightly by the physical demands of the Premier League.

Nowadays his movement and touch is so good he is a more complete player, the deft flicked assist for Matt Ritchie’s winner against Arsenal a fine example.

In recent weeks his form is so good it becomes inevitable he is linked with some of the bigger clubs in the division and in Europe. For once I would urge Ashley not to step in and name the price, even if that price is high, it is a must that Ayoze Perez stays.

He is almost the embodiment of all the improvements Rafael Benitez has overseen in two years at the club. If he was sold it would give Rafa cause for concern before committing to a new deal, regardless of who owns the club.

What we really need now is a season or two more of stability and really cement our top flight position. As has been proven time and time again in the Ashley years, it is almost impossible to do this when constantly selling your best players.

I for one, can’t wait to see how Rafa continues to improve not just Perez, but the likes of Dummett, Lascelles, Ritchie, even Joselu!

Of course we will also need summer additions as ever but the core of a good team is starting to show. Certainly one that can aim for another comfortable mid-table finish next season. Benitez seems to have the knack for getting the absolute maximum out of his players, highlighted by the fact Perez’ development has been remarkable since he arrived.

Even when we first signed Ayoze, he was also linked with Porto, Real Madrid and Barcelona, so expect some big clubs to be chasing him again in the near future. Especially if he keeps up current form to the end of the season.

The bids may come but let’s try and hold onto this one eh Mike? Rafa is building, he just needs to be allowed to do so, without the rug being pulled from under him.

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  • Rich Lawson

    Don’t worry mate,Madrid wont be in for Perez until Bale goes to Bayern.

    • grantham mag

      May be a swop could be made, Bale for Perez, I am sure Bale wouldn’t mind a may cut if he gets a shyte direct mug thrown in.

      • chuck

        Perez @ Barca or RM, you must be joking, the kid is a lightweight with no real goal-scoring ability, he should consider himself lucky to get a game here and if the club can raise ten million for him, do it now.

  • Paul Patterson

    I’ve stated elsewhere that I believe Rafa will be allowed to hold on to whoever he wants and players not be sold for massive cash for the sake of it like in recent times, but if he wants lots of money to spend on improving the squad, then someone will have to go for big money.

    • Leazes.

      Where has Sky’s money gone….a round of drinks in the Casino?

      • Paul Patterson

        Like I’ve said, search me. I’m not privy to that. There’s £100m+ coming to this club now we are safe. It would be nice if that went on a) Players
        b) Reducing the debt Ashley has to himself to bring the asking price down.
        or c) A bit of both.

        • Leazes.

          The club received one third in January.

      • TheFatController

        West end of London hostelries’ fireplace renovations. Allegedly.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        H&M Northumberland St

      • Mike ocaine

        Greggs

      • Rich Lawson

        All on red,DOH !

  • Leazes.

    I see you are from Burton on Stather Jack and went to college in Scunthorpe like Lee Ryder. You have a lot in common with him… he bigs-up the average as well.

    Are there any United fans out there who can write….’HELLO’…. no bah!

    • Rich Lawson

      HELLO,always nice to see you Leazes.

      • Leazes.

        I’m Just wondering why this guy writes for a United fan site…. he’s got no ties to us….. I’m going looking for the rest of them now…. it sort of explains a lot!

  • Sean Lynch

    Whilst obviously suited to

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    If Perez went to Real or Barca he`d be cleaning the boots,
    what utter shtye to think he`s good enough for them, he isn`t even good enough for us

    • Hugh garse

      Hes got a very nice hair do and a spanish accent tho seems to fit right in over in la liga

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Maybe the hair gel makes him fall over all the time, the kid`s had a few good games but that`s it

        • thewildchimp

          Yes, it makes his hairstyle aerodynamic and well oiled, so he is 17,36% quicker on the way down when diving “nose in”.

      • Rich Lawson

        Thauvin’s hair is better,he obviously uses Ginola’s conditioner.

    • Rich Lawson

      He could run round the pitch in a funny suit before games throwing sweeties to the kids tho’.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        That`s what he`d be doing at Barca or Real Madrid

        • Rich Lawson

          Yes,I’m replying to your comment that said Real or Barca ? Or Paella which would be funnier.

      • Georgia Peter

        Porciestreet
        Thought he was doing that now…..!

    • Leicester Mag

      Paul Kitson with a bit of GEL. Ok but a Real Madrid player?🤔😕😲

  • Wally wallsend walton

    Madrid and barca in for perez? Come on, Be serious. He has improved a bit, not a lot, just a bit his finishing is pathetic 7 out of 10 times, albeit the 3 out of 10 are pretty special. Hes no where near the level of other number 10’s or false 9’s.

    I love rafa and all things newcastle. I also think perez is a half decent player his control etc is very good, but hes a half decent player at this level not barca/real level. IF such clubs were after a player in perez’ position there are so many alternatives that are a long way ahead of perez.

    Its far more likely that apparent old interest in him by said clubs before he joined us is the only actual interest by them

    By all means keep up the good work ayoze and keep improving but dont be setting your sights on barca just yet kidda

  • TheFatController

    There is sadly no in-play bet for ‘Ayoze will lose the ball straight after you’re thinking it looks like he’s going to lose the ball’

    If there was, I’d be richer.

    Just once, Ayoze, I’d love you to not lose it when it gets under your feet. Then I wouldn’t have to see you waving your arms at the ref and opposition player, bewildered that it’s not a foul. For the 6,345th time.

    • Rodger the coffin dodger

      Hes scored a couple of good goals lately did you not know that that completely over rules an entire season of being a uselss wally now we must forget how useless he is in possession or when taking on any player home or away or when playing school yard level throughballs to an open striker or taking 95 percent of his chances or winning aerial battles or passing the ball to a team mates feet or picking out a run.

      Because now the spanish giants all want him coz he scored a few flicks dead fancy like

  • Rabid Dog

    Perez is a confidence player. When things are going for him he’s a pretty decent player. But the moment things don’t, he struggles to find the creativity needed, then goes missing.

  • Callum

    What a stupid article. Wijnaldum was sold as we had just been relegated and Ba had a release clause in his contract so you cant say we purely chased a profit on them, although I agree it is the fact with most players under fatty. As for Barca or Madrid coming in for Perez, well the less said about that crackpot opinion the better.

  • Wor Lass

    “We have seen Andy Carroll, Yohan Cabaye, Gini Wijnaldum, Demba Ba and others depart SJP over recent years in the pursuit of profit …” Well. Big Andy went for profit because the amount offered was ludicrus and I would have accepted that. The others, like Sissoko, all wanted to go – Cabaye even went on strike to get his way. I like Perez and I`m glad he`s playing better but Barca? Real? Are they looking for a mascot?

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      This lot are getting as bad as Ryder of the Ronnie

      • Wor Lass

        Have a look, he`s telling us now that rafa`s getting a new contract and a nice fat budget this summer.

    • Leazes.

      Did Cabaye go on strike?

      • Paul Patterson

        Yes, he refused to play in a game against Man City at the start of his last season. In January he was off . .

    • Jezza

      The fee for Andy Carroll may have seemed to good to refuse but in reality he left on a free transfer because not one penny of that fee was ever re-invested in the team. The same goes for all those big sales since Ashley took over.

  • AlanG

    What? 3 good games and about 250 games where he’s been useless and you decide to blow smoke up his backside? Saying we can’t afford to sell him when 5 games ago no one really cared if he started a game or not. Have 5 good games, get a new bumper deal and he will go back to being useless, nice 1! I’d like to see more consistency, more goals and more assists before I’ll be bothered if he stays or goes.

  • Paul Gill

    Perez. Bambi On ice. The only way I think he gets a game is he is Rafas love child. Can’t head a ball. Falls down constantly. Two or three goals and talking a bout Barca. 😂 hope they com in for Marino as well.

  • Gianfranco Shola

    Howay man Pérez at Real or Barca!! Kids 24 now so they’d want him to be able to challenge for a starting place, personally I don’t see him keeping Messi, Suarez, Dembele, Coutinho, Isco, Ronaldo, Asensio etc out of the team! Truth is he’s lucky to be in our starting XI, not to knock the lad I think he’s decent for our level although we’ll need better to push for top 6

  • Mike

    id take the £££££ for him

  • Ole Kristian

    Everyone is disposable, remember that in Benitez regime.

  • steve

    Not sure how Benitez has improved Perez, two game aside he’s never lived up to the potential he showed when playing for McLaren.

  • Paul Busby

    Gimmi a break. Perez has been great recently but the idea that there inst upgrades available on a player who’s consistency has always been suspect, is ridiculous.

    I dont think we should sell Perez if we dont need too, but if the opportunity to sign better forwards/number 10’s come up and he has to be moved on for that to happen, its a no-brainer.

  • Philippines

    Ha Ha, as soon as I read the article I thought that the “moaning Minnies”, “doubters”, “fashionable critics” would be pounding out their negative views. I scrolled down and… ‘voila’ or should I say … ‘caramba’.

  • robbersdog

    I’d swap him for Messi or Ronaldo. In fact, it’s already happened…in my dreams.

  • Weyhhadaway

    It has been slow progress for the lad, playing in the team as an out and out striker at times due to the lack of a center forward at the club. So it is good to see him played in the right place and coming good this season.

    Playing for a top Champions league team? sorry not there and probably never will. However, he is becoming a Prem quality #10 and that will be good enough for most of us.

  • Stephen Paylor

    Perez is a decent Premier league player but wouldn’t get a game or even on the bench for a top 6 side. His value is maybe 15 million tops right now and the top 6 have 30 million players on the bench.

  • Anthony Keys

    Perez was rubbish for the first 30 games of the campaign, I mean shocking. Got played as he is Spanish…..and don’t set me off about Stoke reserve Joselu…who happens to be also……spanish…the pair of them playing at all really wound me up, and I questioned Rafa!

  • Tino11

    A good rule for Mag readers, ignore any article by someone with a double-barreled name!

  • Blackburn1066

    Lets not settle for all this lets go for a top class center forward who can score goals out of nothing and gets us to a cup final. well I can dream!

  • Daniel Taylor

    You’re having a joke here right? Just after he cost us a point against Everton!? He’s had 3 or 4 good games but that doesn’t make him expendable.

    If someone offered more than 20m, I’d bite their hand off.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Rafas Biggin him up to sell him 100%. Goes missing against physical opposition and too inconsistent. I fully expect him to be sold in summer. Rafas played a blinder!!!

  • Awaymag

    ‘Even if Barcelona and Real Madrid come in for him…Ayoze Perez is the player Newcastle can’t afford to sell’ but would sell anyway and find a player on loan to replace him or maybe find a player who has been scouted on YouTube or as a favour for a fellow professional or just because thats a good deal for us or we have Sean Longstaff he can play in that position and we want to promote our youth or…..

  • Mxpx

    I’d only call him an important player because he’s the only person who is proven in the no 10 spot in our squad however I’d guess that Jacob Murphy could fill his boots pretty easily I’m not holding my breath for us to spend money but if we did then I’d get a new no 10 as a priority although would want to see how Murphy does in the 10 spot and the new player before selling perez

  • Martin Rooney

    If we buy some one better, then we can afford to sell him.