Rafael Benitez admits he has been impressed by initial look at this Newcastle player

Rafa Benitez 3

The new Magpies boss hailed the maturity of the Spanish striker in the face of the club's relegation battle.

Incoming Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has admitted to the Chronicle that he has been impressed by the level of maturity he has seen from striker Ayoze Perez since arriving at the club.

Benitez is set to receive a baptism of fire on Monday night just three days after being appointed as Steve McClaren's replacement at St. James' Park, as the Magpies travel to league leaders Leicester City.

This weekend has given the former Liverpool and Chelsea manager his first chance to look at and talk to members of his squad, and he singled out one player in particular for praise.

The Spaniard said that he has been impressed by the maturity of his 22-year-old compatriot Perez, and admitted that the striker talks like a player with a great deal more experience than he actually has.

Benitez told the Chronicle: "I was pleased because I spoke to people face-to-face. I was surprised by Ayoze because I thought he was less mature, but he is mature.

"He analysed the situation with me and it he was good and quite clear, he was like the players who have more experience. I was impressed because he understands what is going on.

"He was very clear about what he needs and I will try to give it him. I was also manager of Tenerife [where Perez played before moving to Tyneside] so I know a lot of people there and we have talked about how good he is."

Perez joined the Magpies nearly two years ago from the Spanish club and scored seven goals in 36 matches, including some crucial strikes as the club narrowly avoided relegation.

With the North East side again struggling to escape the bottom three in the current campaign, Perez has again netted vital goals amongst his tally of six, including winners against Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth.

Perez is expected to keep his place as Newcastle travel to Leicester on Monday night looking for an against-the-odds win which would lift them two points clear of danger.

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