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Opinion

Ayoze Perez enigma explained by Kenedy and Miguel Almiron

2 years ago
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How do you explain the enigma that is Ayoze Perez?

He has now been at St James Park and only a few games short of five seasons.

Yet most fans still struggle to understand what exactly we have, or haven’t, got with our former Tenerife striker.

The thing is, we can’t exactly claim that we haven’t seen enough of him to judge.

Nobody has played more games for Newcastle United these past five years.

Quite remarkably, especially considering he arrived as a hopeful £1.8m one for the future, the Spaniard has played in 140 of the 149 Premier League game since he arrived at St James Park. Starting 106 in the Premier League and appearing as a sub in another 34.

Ironically, when dropping down to the Championship it was a case of Ayoze Perez being used far more sparingly, only starting 25 of the 46 league games in the second tier, coming off the bench another 11 times.

It wasn’t as though he was unavailable though in 2016/17, as Perez was in the matchday 18 for 44 of the 46 games.

Another factor in his favour is his injury/availability record, fit and injury-free for pretty much every match since arriving in 2014, despite the amount of time he spends rolling around on the ground…

The stand out thing with Ayoze Perez at Newcastle United, is that when he is good he is very good and scores goals, but when he is bad he is very bad, at least in an attacking and goalscoring sense. Anonymous is maybe the best description when the now 25 year old is on a downer.

I think the answer can be found over the course of these past two seasons, having had a couple of seasons to fully adapt to the Premier League and then that season in the Championship.

The two seasons since promotion surely telling us far more about what he is all about.

This current season saw Newcastle in the opening 25 games having a record of Played 25 Won 6 Drawn 6 Losing 13, a record of 24 points from 25 games. Goals scored 21 and goals conceding 33, Ayoze Perez scoring only 3 goals in the opening six months of the season.

However, the record these past 10 games is Won 5 Drawn 2 Lost 3, 17 points from 10 games. Goals scored 14 and 11 conceded, Ayoze Perez scoring 7.

These last 10 games are also the 10 games that Miguel Almiron has been involved in.

For my money, Almiron has completely changed the dynamic of the team, allowing Ayoze Perez to be a completely different player and a more threatening one. Rafa Benitez actually agreeing with this sentiment (see below) up to a large point, the manager pointing to Rondon and Almiron as major factors in the Spaniard’s form. Although, obviously Rondon was also here for those first 25 games of the season, so is it not more about Almiron’s arrival being the final piece of the jigsaw?

If you look at last season, things are/were spookily similar.

The first 24 games of the season saw a record of Played 24 Won 6 Drawn 5 Lost 13, with Perez scoring only 2 goals in the opening six months of the season.

Then suddenly it was a run of Played 9 Won 5 Drawn 3 Lost 1.

That run coincided with Kenedy arriving on loan and coming straight into the team, a 1-1 draw with Burnley his first game when he added something completely different. A player prepared to run with the ball, pace and skill, creating space and opportunities for others…Does it sound a bit familiar?

Much like this season, Kenedy’s arrival and the unselfish running and work of Dwight Gayle helped Ayoze Perez look a far better and more threatening player. The overall record in the final 14 matches of the 2017/18 season seeing Newcastle Played 14 Won 6 Drawn 3 Lost 5, as after safety was assured they did take the foot off the gas a bit. However, one player who didn’t was Ayoze Perez who managed 6 goals in the final 14 PL games last season, compared to only 2 in the first 24.

The signs are definitely there for both Ayoze Perez and Newcastle United as a whole.

If Rafa Benitez is given proper backing and freedom, sign Rondon permanently and bring in three or more other first team players, especially to increase the quality of attacking wing-backs. Then there is every chance Newcastle fans could see a far better Ayoze Perez and attacking NUFC side, from the very kick-off of the 2019/20 season.

If Rafa has got the players at his disposal he will play a more expansive game and his team will score more goals, with potentially a very decent number of them coming from Ayoze Perez.

Only Mike Ashley could be the one to rip all that away so unnecessarily and it being a case of ‘Let’s have a look at what we could have had…’

Rafa Benitez talking about Ayoze Perez after hat-trick v Southampton:

“His (Ayoze Perez’) contribution for the team in defence is quite important because we are talking about a very offensive player.

“Last season he scored goals and did well at the end of the season, this year it seems that is the same.

“I am really pleased for him because he knows that he has to be more consistent.

“If he scores three goals sometimes, I will be happy with that…

“To be fair, it is because the way that we play now (as to why Ayoze Perez is more of a threat going forward).

“Miguel Almiron with the pace, Rondon holding the ball with him, and the wing-backs are giving us different options and he’s finding more space between the lines and also behind the defenders.

“There are a lot of things together and he is doing well…because he understands what he has to do.”

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