Ayoze Perez is unlikely to be an unfamiliar name to avid football followers. The Tenerife born Spaniard appeared 179 times for Newcastle United in the Premier League before joining Leicester City last summer. Perez is easily dismissed as a decent player but a striker who doesn’t quite score enough goals. To do so though is unjust and Perez should yet have plenty to offer.
Versatile Perez netted 11 goals in 35 games for Tenerife B before finding the back of the net on 17 occasions in 50 outings for the first team. There was talk of big Spanish clubs pursuing Perez but he opted to head to the north of England and join Newcastle United. His returns at St. James’ Park shouldn’t be scoffed at. Having joined as a still raw 21-year-old, Perez contributed 42 goals in 179 league games for The Magpies, finishing with a particular flourish to earn a chunky £30,000,000 move to Leicester City. Said goal output on Tyneside equates to one goal almost every four games. This was despite often being played out of position. It’s that habit of being played out of position that compromises Perez’s appeal and star quality.
Since joining Leicester City Perez has scored seven goals in 21 PL starts as well as contributing four assists. That’s a goal every three league outings complimented by an assist every four. This is despite having to settle for a role out wide most of the time. Perez has demonstrated his finishing ability at Premier League level but is often left to do donkey work near the halfway line. Perez grafts hard in midfield tussles and defensive duties but his skill would be better suited further up the field around and in the penalty area. Of course Jamie Vardy is still going strong up front for The Foxes whilst the much lauded likes of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes have flourished in attacking midfield roles. Add to that players such as Demarai Gray and Kelechi Iheanacho competing for forward roles as well as Adam Lallana being strongly linked to the King Power Stadium, means Perez could be resigned to his part-time midfield role for some time yet. To accommodate Gray in particular, Perez is often hauled off between the 60th and 70th minute thus robbing him of a full opportunity to contribute. If The Foxes qualify for the Champions League and with Vardy known to sustain the odd injury niggle, there could be extra opportunity for Perez to play as the most advanced attacking player. Because of Perez’s current on-field obligations he can been seen to be a bit of a peak and troughs player, often grafting for an hour before being hauled off in a couple of games before contributing a goal and assist in the next. Should Perez put in a shift and create/score goals against a Spanish side then, still aged only twenty-six, his stock should rise somewhat.
Despite being capped at Under-21 level, full international recognition may be a little far fetched but Perez is definitely a far better player than some would give him credit for. If he can find a way to regularly play the full ninety minutes and contribute in the final third a tad more often then he really could be pushing twenty goals per season. Brendan Rogers and the Leicester faithful would certainly welcome that!