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.
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.
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.