One of the bright sparks in what was otherwise a dismal 2014-15 campaign for Newcastle United, 21-year-old Ayoze Perez proved worth the money invested to sign him from Tenerife last summer.
The prospect of signing another talented Spaniard at hand, with HITC Sport having advanced talks between The Magpies and the agent of 22-year-old Malaga forward, Juanmi, we take a look at what he has to offer and how he compares with fellow Spaniard, Ayoze Perez.
Perhaps most important to clarify, is the use of the word "striker" when discussing Juanmi, because to do so would be like labelling Ayoze Perez the same way, which is far from precise. The word "forward" is a more general, but apt way to describe either player, given they can both play out wide, or in deeper central roles, behind a main striker.
Although it's true to say that like Ayoze Perez, Juanmi can and has played frequently as a centre-forward, spearheading the attack, it's not the only role in which either of the two players can, and regularly do operate.
Indeed and in terms of the roles and positions played throughout the 2014-15 season, there are many comparisons the two share.
Based on positional data from whoscored.com, we can note the following:
- 16 appearances, 2 goals at centre-forward.
- 5 appearances, 2 goals at attacking midfielder, right.
- 2 appearances, 1 goal at attacking midfielder, centre.
- 1 appearance, 1 goal at forward, left.
- 1 appearance, attacking midfielder, left.
- 11 appearances, 1 goal as substitute.
- 6 appearances, 3 goals at centre-forward.
- 13 appearances, 4 goals at attacking midfield, centre.
- 7 appearances, 1 goal at attacking midfield, left.
- 8 appearances as substitute.
Interestingly, noting the reactions to news surrounding the possibility of signing Juanmi, is a general view from Newcastle fans that they would be getting another striker, and one that hasn't produced particularly good numbers in front of goal.
When he's played as a centre-forward, the return of goals to games from Juanmi during the 2014-15 season with Malaga, actually isn't too shabby at all, with a ratio of a goal every two games. Clearly that ratio has diminished, when he's operated in alternative roles, where he hasn't been spearheading the attack.
This is important to note, because like Ayoze Perez has already shown for Newcastle, link-up play, off the ball movement to open attacking space for team-mates, along with creativity, are all additional and beneficial facets, beyond just the capability to score goals.
Juanmi should be seen the same way, as his contribution to the Malaga side throughout the recently concluded season, has been weighted and valued in more than just the goals he's scored, but also in the overall contribution he's made towards play of his team. This is something that simple statistics alone, don't always highlight.
Arguably, and based on the footballing development of the two players, it could be said that Ayoze Perez is more of a "striker" than Juanmi, although both players have produced their best average performances of the 2014-15 campaign, operating in roles other than at centre-forward.
Ultimately and if Newcastle United do sign Juanmi from Malaga, the decision as to where he's best deployed, will be that of new manager Steve McClaren, depending on which tactical systems are utilised.
Thus far, the young Spain international has demonstrated his comfort anywhere - left, right or centre - in the final third of a 4-2-3-1 system with Malaga.
If the two Spaniards are team-mates when the 2015-16 season begins, McClaren would certainly be wise to view both players as much more than "just" centre-forwards, given the wealth of alternative options they can both provide.