Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has heaped praise onto Spanish attacker Ayoze Perez, by claiming he is happy with the progress he is making this season.
Benitez has hailed Perez for his versatility and has declared him a key member of the squad this season. Perez joined Newcastle from Spanish side Tenerife in 2014 and has gone on to make over 100 appearances through the Premier League and Championship, netting 22 goals in the process.
In today’s modern football - where attackers are tasked with moving along the frontline flowingly - Perez fits this mould well. He can play on the left, right or through the middle with Benitez opting to play him in the ‘number 10’ role behind summer acquisition Joselu.
Despite starting all seven Premier League games for Newcastle this season, Perez has failed to open his account, but Benitez claims he is pleased with the blossoming partnership he is forming with Joselu.
“When I came here he was playing a lot of games in the wide areas because he was what they had," Benitez told the Chronicle.
“Now he is more in the middle and I think the understanding with Joselu is quite good. The way that we want to play and his movements are quite good. I can see little things he must improve but in terms of his understanding when we have the ball and we don’t have the ball with the other players around, he is what we need.
“Because Perez can play as a striker, he can play as a second striker, he is an important player for us in this situation.
However, this hasn’t stopped Benitez claiming that he is still looking to make acquisitions in that area come the January transfer window, adding: “Are we looking for competition for him? Yes we are looking for competition for every player in every position. But if you don’t find anyone you have to use the players you have and I am quite happy with him."