When reports broke out that Ayoze Perez had rejected the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona to sign for Newcastle, there was a sense of awe and disbelief amongst fans worldwide. After all, we don’t see a lot of players rejecting the lure of joining the mighty Spanish clubs. However, it can be understood that the move to Newcastle was a pure footballing move, since joining any of the clubs mentioned would render his career fruitless due to lack of playing time going by the plethora of proven talent each of them have. So, midway through the season, we would like to evaluate how effective has Perez been for his side, and how beneficial the move has been both for him and his new club
Though the 21 year old has been used across the front line in the past, his best position is believed to be just off the striker. And he has been often deployed in a strike partnership at Newcastle. Having arrived only in summer, the striker was expected to have a bit part role, till the troublesome knee of Magpies first choice striker Papiss Cisse gave way and Perez was drafted in to the starting 11 against Tottenham. He responded by scoring the winning goal at White Hart Lane and endearing himself to the fabled Toon Army. The striker has since scored 4 more goals in the league, one of which was an exquisite, even arrogant, finish against West Brom. Of his 5 goals, 4 have come in a winning effort while he has scored the winning goal himself on 3 of those occasions (Tottenham, Liverpool and West Brom). He has shown good presence in the box, as was evident in his goals against Liverpool and West Brom, moving intelligently and capitalising on any slip up (positional or otherwise) by the opposition. Despite being afforded a bit part role for majority of the season, Perez hasn’t looked rusty and often hits the target as his shooting accuracy averages close to 70%. Having converted close to 25% of the shots he has taken, he is a constant menace to the opposing defence.
He has created 12 chances so far, averaging a chance per 90 minutes he has been on the pitch which is a healthy statistic for a forwarded operating in congested spaces higher in the pitch. However, none of the chances he has created have been converted by his teammates. The Spanish attacker has been renowned for his pace and trickery and has lived up to his credentials, taking on his man on 69 occasions and winning close to 50% of his battles. Also, having a quick pair of feet, it comes as no surprise that he gets fouled often by defenders in crucial areas on the pitch, winning free kicks in dangerous positions
Perez’s contribution to defence cannot be ignored either. He loves to get into duels often, be it on the ground or in the air. However, a look at the Spaniard suggests that he isn’t yet physically moulded enough to win duels more often than not in a physical league such as Premier League and it stands true. He has won close to 40% of his tackles on the ground (which is still an incredible figure going by his frame) and 30% of his duels in the air. Most attackers tend to have lower pass completion stats as they operate in congested areas and credit is due to Perez whose pass completion stats hover around 80%. However, there are certain aspects of his game that need to be worked up on.
Going by his frail figure, it comes as no surprise that he has been dispossessed 2.5 times every 90 minutes and he should bolster these numbers to succeed in a league often defined as the most physical of the leagues in Europe. His first touch too has been poor more often than not as he averages 2.70 unsuccessful first touches per 90 minutes. The staff for player development will look to get these deficiencies sorted at the earliest in order to lead the Spaniard to the stardom he has been tipped for.
The last Perez’s goals came in a winning effort against Everton two match days ago and the Spaniard will be keen to add to the tally in the remainder of the season. Having started off with getting a few minutes under his belt in every fixture, the Spaniard is a regular starter these days, regularly finishing the games as well. His exploits with Tenerife last season in earned him the awards for Segunda División Breakthrough Player 2013–14 and Segunda División Best Attacking Midfielder: 2013–14 apart from being announced as a part of Segunda División Team of the Season: 2013–14 having racked up 16 goals in the league. Having switched allegiances and moved to a tougher league, Perez will take some time learning the tricks of the trade in England. Nevertheless, his performances have spoken of his abilities and there’s nothing to suggest the Spaniard cannot make a bigger impact in the English League.
-Stats from Squawka and Whoscored