Ayoze Perez reveals 'difficult decision' at Newcastle United as he clarifies interview comments
Ayoze Perez says he faces a “difficult decision” in the summer.
The Newcastle United forward scored his first Premier League hat-trick in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Southampton.
And the win took the club up to 13th in the table with three games left to play.
Perez, the club’s leading league scorer with 10 goals, has two years left on his contract at St James’s Park, but he suggested it was “time for a change” in an interview in Spain last month.
The 25-year-old has clarified those comments, though he admits he will have “options” in the summer given his form.
“Obviously, it was translated quite different to what I meant,” said Perez.
“I just said that in summer there are going to be options. That means I have done something well. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to leave 100%.
“I can hear what’s coming for me, what they offer for me, and that’s it – but it doesn’t mean I’m going to leave 100% at the end of the season.
“It’s going to be a difficult decision. It depends on a lot of things.”
Perez joined the club as an unknown from Tenerife five years ago.
“I have felt really well playing for this club, playing for this badge,” said the former Spain Under-21 international.
“It has been five great years, and I cannot thank enough Newcastle what they have done for me. I wasn’t even professional when I signed for Newcastle. I always have that in mind.
“Obviously, it has been five great years over here and I have improved a lot as a player and a person.
The future of Rafa Benitez could have a bearing on Perez’s decision given that United’s manager is out of contract in the summer.
“Obviously, we all want him to stay – it means a lot for this club,” said Perez.
“Every fan wants him to stay as well. So there are a lot of things to think about but we will see. Now it is time to finish the season on a high if we can, three games to go, and hopefully we can pick up some more points.”
Perez – who is now ninth in the club’s Premier League goalscoring chart – says it was an “unbelievable feeling” to score a hat-trick at St James’s Park.
“It was an unbelievable feeling,” said Perez. “It was such a lovely night at St James’s Park. Getting three important points, 41 points, my first hat-trick in Premier League – I can’t ask any more.
“This is my second in my career. I got one back in Spain for Tenerife, but this one is even more special ... in the first division, the top league, the Premier League, for such a big club, that felt really good, man.”
One thing that has eluded Perez is a call-up to the senior Spain squad – and this may have a bearing on any summer decision over his future.
“This is what you have to do – keep pushing,” he said. “It’s not in your hands. You have to do what I have done – score goals, do as well as you can, and then it’s in somebody else’s hands, in this case Luis Enrique.
"But I have been thinking about the team, getting the points needed, and obviously now it’s more than enough to stay in the Premier League, and now we need to have the ambition to keep looking forward, to keep looking up and finishing in the best position possible.”
Asked if he would stay at Newcastle if he got a Spain call-up while at the club, Perez said: “I don’t know – it depends on many things.
“But I’m not even worried about that. Obviously, it’s a dream to be in that Spanish team, but it is not something I’m worried about now, thinking about. I just want to finish as best as I can, score a few more goals if I can, and then we will see what happens.
“The most important thing is the three points we got – 41 points means a lot.
“It has been a tough season for everyone at the club. Day by day, we’ve been working very hard to be in this situation and position. It’s something we have to be proud of.”