How Ayoze Perez has given light to a dark season at Newcastle

The talented striker has scored vital goals to keep Newcastle United above water heading into their relegation showdown.

Lingering in 17th place, two points above the relegation zone with two games to go, it’s clear that this has been a desperately poor season that could turn into disaster should Newcastle find themselves in the bottom three on 24th May.

Yet despite the doom and gloom that has engulfed St. James' Park, there have been a few positives to come out of this year.

Club stalwart Jonas Gutierrez has overcome testicular cancer to make a return to first-team football to the delight of both fans of football and fellow players.

The free transfer of boyhood fan Jack Colback looks to be one of the deals of the season. The midfielder has worked tirelessly to win over the Toon Army since his jump from rivals Sunderland in August and should be named captain in the summer, by all accounts.

But it is the emergence of striker Ayoze Pérez that has given Newcastle fans what they have craved for this season; hope for the future.

The young Spaniard joined the North-East club from Segunda División side Tenerife for the small sum of £1.5 million (per the Guardian) and was seen by then-manager Alan Pardew as one for the future; a talent who needed time to develop the strength and pace to play in the Premier League.

Despite evidence demonstrating that the 21-year-old was a natural goal scorer, netting 16 times in the previous season for Tenerife, boss John Carver admitted this week that the club had other intentions for the forward: “We were expecting to send him out on loan for a whole season.”

Instead, due to the incessant injury problems that fellow striker Siem De Jong has encountered, along with the poor form of Frenchman Emmanuel Rivière, Pérez found himself thrust into the spotlight on Tyneside and embraced the challenge.

The Spanish Under-21 surprised everyone with winning goals against Tottenham, Liverpool, and West Bromwich Albion, establishing himself as one of the league's brightest young talents.

Whilst Pérez had struggled since his goal in the 3-2 win over Everton in January, he has thrown himself into the club's fight for safety in the last month, netting against Swansea and crucially grabbing a point for The Toon with another strike in a 1-1 draw against West Brom.

Without his goals, Newcastle would have found themselves up to 13 points worse off and would be relegated by now. The fact they are not is testament to Ayoze’s impact on Tyneside.

Despite news this week that there will be no end-of-season awards for Newcastle United, it would surely be Pérez picking up the Young Player of the Year award, should they have gone ahead.

The Spaniard is on his way to becoming a cult figure in the North-East, the likes not seen since David Ginola, another import who embraced the city and it’s people and is remembered so fondly.

Most certainly there is more to come from the striker who is currently under contract until 2019 and could be Newcastle’s answer to their long-term goalscoring dilemma. 

This is only the start for Ayoze Perez, which is good news for Newcastle fans at last.

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