Perez sends clear message to Benitez: This is what I want at Newcastle
By Matt Farr
Newcastle forward Ayoze Perez believes he is at his best when playing in the No.10 role for the club.
The 23-year-old has been utilised in several different positions throughout his Newcastle career, but the Spaniard admits he relishes the freedom of the No.10 role.
Rafa Benitez appears to share the same view having frequently handed Perez his preferred role over the course of the current campaign, where has scored nine goals and supplied six assists.
But Perez still faces increased competition for places, with the Newcastle chief also handing Mo Diame a fair shot at becoming a permanent fixture in the role, albeit to much less effect.
In a clear message to Benitez, Perez admitted to the Chronicle that he enjoys playing in a role which gives him so much more freedom to roam around the attacking third.
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He said: “I like the No.10 role, because I have some freedom. By that I mean I can be involved with the ball, I can push and be a second striker and then drop deep or out wide.
“It’s good for me to have that freedom; it makes me feel more comfortable out on the pitch.
“I’ve been enjoying this position, but sometimes it’s hard because teams also look to be aggressive, but I feel comfortable in that position.”
Perez has had an influential role to play in Newcastle’s pursuit of the Championship title this season, helping his side establish a narrow lead over rivals Brighton at the top of the table.
But he struggled to make such a lasting impact on the first team squad under the club’s previous boss, Steve McClaren.
Benitez’s predecessor rarely used Perez as a No.10, instead preferring to deploy him in a left-wing role.
But ultimately, McClaren’s failure to get the best out of his players, including Perez’s poor positioning, saw them relegated from the top flight last season.
In other Newcastle news, Ivan Toney bagged a brace for Scunthorpe in their win over Bradford on Sunday.