What Rafa Benitez's departure will mean for Ayoze Perez at Newcastle United
Ayoze Perez was questioning his future even before Rafa Benitez’s departure, so what’s his thinking now?
Perez, for the second year running, was Newcastle United’s leading scorer last season.
The forward, wanted by Valencia, scored six goals in the club’s last five Premier League games as the team secured a 13th-place finish.
However, Perez, signed from Tenerife as an unknown five years ago, was thinking about a change even before that final flourish in front of goal.
Perez, we know, wants to return to Spain to play in La Liga – it’s just a case of when is the right moment for him. Now? Or next season?
Benitez will formally end his association with the club on June 30 when his contract expires – and his departure won’t help persuade Perez that his future lies at St James’s Park.
Perez – who has improved immeasurably under Benitez – himself said his future “depended on many things” in an interview with the Gazette late last season. One of those “things” would have been Benitez, his manager.
Asked if he had played his last game for the club at St James’s Park, Perez said: “It’s something that I cannot say right now. You cannot guarantee it. We’ll see. It’s going to be a long summer. Obviously, there’s going to be a day where you make a decision. It depends on many things.
“Obviously, this place is always going to be in my heart, whatever happens. We’ll see what happens.”
Perez, 25, was also asked if it would be hard to leave Newcastle after five years on Tyneside.
"Yes, that's something that's always in (my) mind,” he said. “This kind of environment ... you don't see it in many places. It's going to be a long summer. I cannot guarantee anything, but we'll see. It's time to rest, to enjoy and be with my family and friends."
A well-rested Perez, under contract until 2021, will be back on Tyneside next week for the start of pre-season training.
However, it seems certain that he’ll be a little more restless.