Ayoze Perez: The Jury Is Still Out

When LCFC makes a new signing, we turn to our network of Trust’s to get an expert opinion. Steve Wraith, board member of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust provides his assessment of…

“Ayoze Perez. The man, the enigma, turned down Real Madrid and Barcelona to sign for Newcastle United on the 5th June 2014 for an estimated fee of £1.5m. In the last 5 years the Spanish import had played 136 times for the Magpies and bagged 27 goals at the time of writing.

So was he value for money or a waste of Euros, and have Leicester City bagged themselves a bargain?  He was certainly a player that caused frequent heated discussions in the bars on Tyneside after a defeat. “He lacks vision”, “He’s soft as sh&*e and doesn’t get stuck in”, ‘He’s a lazy f&*ker and doesn’t track back man”, just a selection of comments I’ve heard about Perez in the last few months. His recent goal celebration where he puts his fingers in his ears suggests that he has read a lot of criticism online and has decided to laugh at it and prove people wrong by putting in good performances and putting the ball in the onion bag. I’m all for that by the way. That’s what a player should do.

Ayoze was born in Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Canary Islands. He started his career at Tenerife and made his senior debut with the B-team in 2011 in the Fourth Division. He made his professional debut in August 2013 in a 1-0 defeat at Alcorcon. His first goal came against Real Madrid Castilla in the September of that year and it was the match winning goal with Tenerife running out 1-0 winners. He went on to play 50 games for his home town club scoring 17 times and was recognised as the ‘Breakthrough player of the year’ in 2014.

This put the young Spaniard firmly in the World spotlight and scouts from Porto, Barcelona and Real Madrid who had been keeping tabs on the youngster had filed their reports and three of Europe’s biggest teams were battling for his signature. So who would he sign for? Which manager could persuade this young prodigy that he could be the man to guide him to the very pinnacle of his chosen career?

Alan Pardew of course at Newcastle United! Who needs the sun, sangria and siestas in Porto and Madrid when you can have Brown Ale, stotties with pease pudding and a manager who dances like your Dad after the buffet at a wedding.

The 20 year old arrived at St James’ Park and was part of ‘blueprint number 96’ in the Mike Ashley era. That was to create a development squad in the Under 21’s that would eventually be good enough to play in the first team so that we could reach the heights of Aston Villa. (I know I know!) He was under the guidance of Peter Beardsley who Ayoze hit it off with immediately, and who better to teach an up and coming goal getter.

So how has he faired since he arrived on Tyneside? Well to be fair he has been very consistent when you look at the stats season by season.

2014-15 saw 36 appearances with 11 as sub and a goal return of 7. He took a while to settle into the English style of play but grabbed his first goal at Spurs in a 2-1 win in October and followed that up a week later with the winner against Liverpool (1-0) and then his third in as many games in another away win at West Bromich Albion ( 2-0). His goals helped Newcastle escape the drop with John Carver now at the helm after Pardew’s departure.

The following summer 2015-16 saw the arrival of the ‘Wally with the Brolly’ Steve McClaren and Perez statistics for this season are more or less identical as his first. 34 appearances with 12 as sub and 6 goals. Once again Perez scored a couple of crucial goals with the winner at Bournemouth in a 1-0 win and an injury time winner at Tottenham which briefly took United out of the drop zone. The season ended in relegation and saw the arrival of Benitez. This season also saw Perez extend his contract with the club to 2021.

The ‘Rafalution’ started in earnest in season 2016-17 and Ayoze played his part again with 25 appearances with 11 as a substitute in the Championship scoring 9 times. His knack of scoring key goals continuing with a goal against promotion rivals Brighton and notching the winner against Barnsley on the final day of the season to clinch the title.

2017-18 saw him make 36 appearances including 8 from the bench, and another 8 goals in a black and white shirt. He got the only goal of the game away at Stoke, grabbed a brace against Luton Town at home in the FA Cup and scored the crucial goal against Huddersfield in a 1-0 win.

This season 2018-19 our Spanish maestro played 40 games, 3 as sub and finished top scorer with 12 Premier League goals to his name, his best season yet in a Toon shirt.

So is the jury still out on Ayoze Perez after reading the facts? I think it always will be, but for me he has proved to be good value for money. In football you get what you pay for. Our £1.5M outlay has been more than repaid with those crucial match winning goals he has scored for us away from home which have gone a long way to keeping us in the top flight on more than one occasion. He has flourished under the guidance of Rafa and has benefited from the arrival of Almiron. He will drive you mad one minute and have you cuddling a complete stranger in an away end the next. For £30M Leicester City you have got a bargain.”

You can read the latest news from the Newcastle Supporters Trust here www.nufctrust.co.uk @stevewraith @nust

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the Trust member and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation