Newcastle United striker Ayoze Perez has revealed his joy at representing Newcastle and working under Rafa Benitez.
Perez, who finished as Newcastle's top scorer last season with ten goals, told the Evening Chronicle how impressed he was with Benitez's impact on the team since taking over in 2016.
Benitez and Perez both played a huge part in Newcastle's successful campaign last season, which saw the team finish in 10th place in the Premier League, despite working with a limited transfer budget.
Perez heaped praise on his manager, telling the Evening Chronicle: “The manager did not have a big speech at the end of the season. It was short and nothing special. He congratulated us for finishing 10th but we know it is about the next challenge now.
“Rafa Benitez has been a massive part of us finishing in the top 10. I am proud to be part of this team and be a player under Rafa.”
However, the 24-year-old insisted that Newcastle must work hard to ensure Premier League safety next season, saying: “As soon as pre-season starts we need to focus. Last season has gone.
“It was a great achievement but we have to focus on the next year. We have to go again now and look to build on things.”
Perez has been a solid signing for Newcastle since joining in 2014 as a relatively unknown player from CD Tenerife in Spain. He has made 154 appearances for the Magpies, scoring 35 goals and assisting a further 13.
Benitez himself is viewed as somewhat of a hero in Newcastle. He was brought in in 2016 in an attempt to save the club from relegation, but was unable to prevent the club from slipping into the Championship.
Many believed a manager of his calibre would not remain at a Championship club, but Benitez showed his commitment to the team by remaining in Newcastle and guiding the team to the top of the Championship in the following season.
He has already finalised the signing of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, but fans believe that the team need to make more signings and improve the quality of the team.