Ayoze Perez and Joselu’s link key to Newcastle approach - Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United's Joselu.
Newcastle United's Joselu.

Rafa Benitez admits he’s happy with the partnership struck between striker Joselu and chief support Ayoze Perez.

And the Newcastle United boss believes Perez has a key role to play in United’s immediate future, even though he is looking for competition in the No 10 role.

“Because Perez can play as a striker, he can play as a second striker. He is an important player for us in this situation,” said Benitez.

“When I came here he was playing a lot of games in the wide areas because he was what they had.

“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.

“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.”

You only have to look at social media to see Perez is not a player who inspires all factions of the United fanbase.

It has led some fans to wonder, particularly at home, why Benitez does not play two strikers, rather than persist with Perez.

This is not lost on Benitez, who addressed this issue by saying: “We had Gayle who was injured before and Mitrovic was suspended but the question was: Why don’t you play with two strikers?

“Sometimes this (number ten) job - playing between the lines in an area that is difficult to mark and also where the holding midfielder of the other team plays – is important.

“Nobody can guarantee you will score more goals with two strikers. Maybe you lose control in the middle of the pitch.”

Meanwhile, Jamaal Lascelles has been named on the shortlist for September’s Premier League player of the month.

He’s joined by Harry Kane (Tottenham), Romelu Lukaku (Man United), Pascal Gross (Brighton), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne (both Man City).