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Newcastle United’s Ayoze Perez is developing into a fine player under Rafa Benitez

The 24-year-old has two goals in his last two outings.

Jake Jackman

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Ayoze Perez
Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle United have been in excellent form since the turn of the year and they have managed to move away from the relegation zone in recent weeks with three successive wins.

Rafa Benitez has been able to rely on a core group of players and one of the individuals to benefit most from the coaching of the Spaniard has been Ayoze Perez.

The 24-year-old has played over 100 times for the club since joining in 2014 and has been seen as a player with promise throughout his time at St James’ Park.

However, at times, supporters have been frustrated with him and his lack of influence in matches.

Perez has been played predominantly as a number ten and although he does have some qualities that suit the role, he isn’t a natural.

Benitez has kept the faith in his compatriot while continuing to develop the player on the training pitch and the effect has been noticeable in recent weeks.

Perez hasn’t scored as many goals as he would have liked this season, but he has come up with two crucial strikes in the last two weeks.

(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

As a result, Newcastle have climbed to 10th in the table and Benitez will see that as vindication for his decision to stick with the 24-year-old.

Last weekend, he finished coolly after having a chance laid on by Kenedy with an excellent piece of awareness.

He then followed that up an audacious chip to clinch the three points against Leicester City.

Perez may not be a clinical finisher, but this finish underlined the technical skill that he does possess and why Newcastle are keen to keep him in their first team.

The finish was superb, but the awareness and composure were also impressive.

It came at a crucial time as it gave the team breathing space and meant that the late goal that they conceded didn’t cost them any points.

A large section of the support has been critical of Perez’s contributions in the final third, as he has missed good chances and given the ball away cheaply throughout the campaign.

However, he now has four goals and four assists.

His previous best season in the Premier League came during the 2015/16 season when he scored six and laid on two.

It is shaping up to be his best season in the Premier League and that will give him a foundation from which to push on from in years to come.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

One of his best attributes is his work rate and tenacity when his team is out of possession.

Perez runs relentlessly for his side and is an unselfish player, which is why he suits Benitez’s style of play.

This season, he has averaged 1.63 ball recoveries per ninety minutes and his pressing has been central to the tactics used by the manager.

It is worth noting that nine of Newcastle’s ten wins have come when Perez has been a part of the starting eleven and he has scored the winning goal in three of those matches.

He may score every week, but the goals that he does score are important ones.

At the age of 24, there is more to come from the Spaniard and he could develop into a very good player under the guidance of Benitez.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

West Ham United

Signing Yaya Toure is not enough to gain support for West Ham board

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Photo: Getty Images.

West Ham United are believed to be close to appointing former Premier League winning coach Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager, and reports indicate that it could lead to a coup signing in his former player Yaya Toure.

The Telegraph make the claims as they say that previous talks between the Hammers and the free agent broke down, but the appointment of the Chilean would smooth matters and may make a deal more feasible.

In truth, the signing may not actually impress West Ham fans all that much. They have grown used to the signing of players who were dominating the game five years ago and are now past their best. The signings of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Patrice Evra over the past year have shown as much with mixed results.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The board are desperately seeking a way to get fans back onside as discontent grows and fans accuse them of not spending sufficiently to back their team and the signing of such a high profile player of immense quality may satisfy those wishes.

That may be the plan, but Yaya Toure made only two Premier League starts in 2017/18 and such a record bares terrifying resemblances to the likes of Andy Carroll, commanding a high wage whilst spending more time in the stands watching on than actually making an impact.

Toure could provide a spark and excitement, there’s no denying that he would be an invigorating addition, but he is not the long-term solution that the club require as fans cry out for players with potential and already at their best. His signing would be a mere distraction.

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Liverpool

Liverpool target Besiktas’ Anderson Talisca would add superb attacking depth

The Brazilian has recorded 28 goal contributions in Turkey this season.

Max Cohen

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Anderson Talisca
Photo: Getty Images

After Besiktas’ 5-1 home win over Sivasspor on Saturday, manager Senol Gunes strongly hinted that star attacker Anderson Talisca would be joining Liverpool this summer.

The possible signing of the Brazilian midfielder would be a superb acquisition for Liverpool, adding depth and quality to the club’s star-studded attack.

According to FourFourTwo, the Besiktas manager confirmed Talisca would be leaving the Turkish club for the Premier League after two years on loan from Benfica.

And Gunes dropped a massive hint that put Liverpool as the possible frontrunners in attaining his signature ahead of Manchester United.

“He might be rivals with Cenk Tosun,” Gunes replied when asked about Talisca’s English destination.

Of course, former Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun plays for Everton– leading many to jump to the conclusion that Talisca is headed to Anfield instead of Old Trafford.

(Photo by Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

The signing would represent a strong statement of intent from the Reds, as Talisca has enjoyed a stunning two seasons at Besiktas and is a burgeoning attacking talent.

In 47 appearances this season, the 24-year-old was involved in an impressive 28 goals, scoring 20 and assisting eight.

And the Brazilian’s past form shows this fantastic season is not a one-off. In 2016/17, Talisca bagged 17 goals and six assists, despite only featuring 33 times in all competitions.

While some might argue that the Turkish Super Lig has a poorer defensive standard than the Premier League, Talisca has proven his worth in European competition as well. In his time at Besiktas, he has notched five Champions League goals, as well as two goals and four assists in the Europa League.

The Brazilian youth international would add impressive offensive depth for Liverpool, as the Reds look to seriously challenge for the Premier League next season.

The purchase of the prolific attacking midfielder would be an ideal first step in assembling a squad that could bring Anfield its first league trophy in over two decades.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham have already identified Eric Dier’s £25 million replacement in Wilmar Barrios

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Photo: Getty Images.

Losing first team regulars may not be a complete surprise to Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino, and that may why be reports are indicating that the coach has already lined up an alternative to Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama should either move on this summer.

The Sun say that there is still interest in Dier, who will be at the World Cup with England, whilst Wanyama’s struggles with injury may mean that Pochettino looks elsewhere for the role of midfield enforcer.

They believe the target to be Boca Juniors’ 24-year-old holding midfielder Wilmar Barrios, a Colombian international who plays alongside Spurs’ Davinson Sanchez at international level.

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The youngster has become a key man in the Boca Juniors side but, perhaps unusually, has not caught the attention of many in Europe. Barrios has, though, developed a reputation as one of the best players in South America, particularly in his position, as he has become a linchpin protecting his back four.

That is protected in his very impressive stats, which show that he makes on average three tackles per game and 2.8 interceptions per match, compared to the 1.8 tackles and 1.3 interceptions for Dier playing in a very similar role.

Barrios’ intelligent reading of the game has drawn comparisons to Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, with both men guilt of diving into tackles on occasion despite all of their many strengths.

He may be raw, with no experience of playing in Europe, but at £25 million he could prove to be a bargain and Mauricio Pochettino’s return home to go on a shopping spree could provide a long-term solution to the holding midfield role which seems as uncertain as ever after the 2017/18 season.

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