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What Ayoze Perez said when leaving Newcastle for Leicester couldn’t be more true now

5 months ago
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Ayoze Perez left Newcastle United for Leicester City on 3 July 2021.

Just over 22 months later, he has won his first trophy.

Saturday saw Leicester beat Chelsea 1-0 and Ayoze Perez played the first 82 minutes before being subbed, Tielemans scoring the only goal of the game with a brilliant striker on 63 minutes.

A lot of discussion on social media after the Foxes had won, as Newcastle fans discussed Ayoze Perez, some were negative but most wished him well on his FA Cup winners medal.

Most definitely though, Newcastle fans United in having wanted Leicester City to win.

Their first ever FA Cup victory and you could see how much it meant to them all, the fans, players, management, owners.

So refreshing compared to one of the usual suspects winning it, never mind appreciating it, if Chelsea had won it would hardly have registered with most of those who are inside and outside Chelsea, just ticking off another relatively meaningless (in their eyes) trophy.

Chelsea have been in eight of the last fifteen FA Cup finals, including four of the last five, winning five of the last fifteen and losing now in three of the finals.

As for Ayoze Perez, you can’t help but go back 23 months and read what he had to say, considering what has happened to Leicester City and Newcastle United since then…

Ayoze Perez speaking to The Athletic in August 2019, explaining why he’d moved from Newcastle to Leicester:

“Honestly, it is a great crowd (at Newcastle United). They were very passionate. It was very enjoyable.

“If I am honest, there was an opportunity to leave after we were relegated to the Championship, but it didn’t happen. I had the chance when Spurs were interested. We were talking a little bit if they were going to sign me, but in the end it didn’t happen and I started the season with Newcastle.

“I felt I had to take Newcastle back to where they belong, so I stayed. It was a tough year in the Championship, to be honest, but we made it straight away back to the Premier League, where they belong.

Rafa was key. He was a big factor when he stayed at the club. I knew we were going to be great playing under Rafa, and we were. We made it back as champions. The next two seasons after that were great as well.

“The ambition of the club (Leicester) and the way they are doing the right things was very important in my decision. Also, as soon as Rafa left the decision was easier.

“Things could be done better over there at Newcastle, but Leicester have given me the opportunity to do great things hopefully. There is big ambition.

“I think how football works, the way you have to look at football, that is the difference between Leicester and Newcastle.

“There is big motivation here to keep growing and to get better here at Leicester. I didn’t feel they had it at Newcastle.”

Total lack of ambition, Mike Ashley forcing Rafa Benitez out being the final proof to Ayoze Perez of what he had to do.

Ayoze Perez hasn’t always been automatic first choice at Leicester but there again, he is surrounded by far better players and is at a club that is ambitious and is competing to win things. In total though the former Newcastle striker has still made 74 appearances so far across the Premier League, domestic cups and European competition, as both a starter and a sub.

In 2019/20, Ayoze Perez and the rest of the Leicester set-up were gutted to ‘only’ finish fifth in the Premier League after looking certs for top four and Champions League football. The Foxes were quarter-finalists in the FA Cup and semis in the League Cup.

In 2020/21, they have pushed that door fully open and lifted the FA Cup, Ayoze Perez and the team also playing Europa League football this season, plus they are now guaranteed European football, with it almost certainly set to be Champions League football as they are currently third two points clear of Chelsea and six points clear of fifth with two games left to play – though Liverpool do have a game in hand.

Since Ayoze Perez left on 3 July 2019, Newcastle United have appointed Steve Bruce and the fans he (Perez) left behind have been subjected to some of the most dismal negative clueless tactics and football you could ever have imagined, despite Mike Ashley allowing him a £100m+ net spend.

Newcastle currently sixteenth in the Premier League and just grateful there were three such woeful teams to fill the relegation spots.

Newcastle United are on a run of only five wins in twenty seven games in all competitions and yet outsiders tell Newcastle fans they should be grateful to Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley.

Worth reminding everybody that in the final 28 Newcastle United PL games when Rafa Benitez and Ayoze Perez were still at the club, Newcastle had the eighth best form in the top tier.

In the final 16 PL matches when the pair were still at NUFC in 2018/19, with the belated help of Miguel Almiron signing, Rafa’s Newcastle had the fifth best form and fifth highest total number of goals scored in the Premier League.

With just that one relative bit of ambition shown by Mike Ashley, £20m on Almiron on 31 January 2019, it set in motion an attacking trio of loan striker Rondon, the Paraguayan signing, with Ayoze Perez completing the strikeforce.

Rafa Benitez at last able to play a more attacking style now he had Almiron’s pace, nobody benefited more than Perez who scored nine goals in his final twelve PL matches at Newcastle United, making it 12 PL goals for the season.

A what if moment…

Ending the season with a 4-0 win at Fulham, the fifth highest number of points and goals for NUFC in the final 16 PL matches, what might have been.

Rafa Benitez wanted to control transfers in and out, happy to work with a realistic budget but needing to decide who came and went, starting with paying the £16.5m permanent release clause signing of Rondon, the NUFC player of the season who had been directly involved in 18 of Newcastle’s Premier League goals, scoring eleven and seven assists.

Could Rondon, Perez and Almiron continue on from where they had left off towards the end of the 2018/19 season, especially with Rafa having totally sidelined Jonjo Shelvey, Shelvey on the way out and creating the chance for a proper playmaker to be recruited who would be mobile and willing to put in the hard yards, as well as scoring and creating goals by linking up with the attacking trio and other players – new and old.

Instead, Rafa forced out, Perez follows after Leicester pay the £30m release clause, Mike Ashley gets his way as instead of Rondon who he refused to let Benitez buy, he (Ashley) gets his way and Newcastle pay £43m (according to Mike Ashley himself) for Joelinton. Steve Bruce so desperate to get the job, he accepts all of Ashley’s terms, including no say on transfers in and out – instead Ashley himself deciding that.

Does Ayoze Perez ever look back and regret leaving Newcastle United?

I’ll let you decide that for yourself…

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