Many players have had poor seasons, but few have disappointed as much as Ayoze Perez. He’s made 18 league starts this season, and so he’s remained a key part of Rafael Benitez’s plans at St James’ Park – but only by the skin of his teeth.
Indeed, with just 2 goals and 1 league assist all season long, it’s fair to say that he’s underperformed for much of the campaign. He has been well below par, and that’s been a core reason why we’ve struggled so much all season. Of course, when you compare the 8 goals and 5 assists that he bagged last season to his return this year, the difference is clear.
It’s not just his effectiveness in front of goal, though. There’s a lot more than is contributing to his collective poor form. There’s a lack of effort and a lack of determination, and there have also been problems with the facets of his game that had previously been so natural, like his passing range and dribbling effectiveness.
What makes his league performances all the more baffling is when you consider his performance against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup replay tie. He finished the game very strongly, and even scored a goal, and he was crucial as we bounced back to secure a win against the Championship side.
Was it a classic performance from him? Far from it, but there were signs of the Perez of old – the Perez that we haven’t seen at all this season.
The attacker has let Rafael Benitez down all season long, and he seriously needs to turn it around. We think he could well have been the most disappointing player of the season – and it’s hard to argue against that point given his return.