Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden has heaped praise on teammate Ayoze Perez, describing him as ‘underrated’.
The Spaniard has come to the fore for the Magpies in recent weeks and has been a big reason for their Premier League survival – just as he was last season.
Perez has scored five goals in his last three games, meaning he now has 11 in the Premier League.
It was a sluggish start for the former Tenerife player, but the January arrival of Miguel Almiron appears to have lit a fire beneath him.
The duo, along with Salomon Rondon, have look dangerous in attack, and Hayden has spoken of his admiration for Perez.
He said in an interview with Chronicle Live: “He has been underrated. With a player who has a playing style like him, I think it is quite easy to jump on the bandwagon of ‘he loses the ball’ or ‘he’s not good enough’ or ‘he’s too weak’ or whatever people may say.
You have to look at it as a player in that position, the stats he’s had in that position – he’s now in the top 10 goalscorers, he’s scored ten plus Premier League goes in both seasons I’ve been here now and I think he’s up there for the best in the league for interceptions and tackles for forward players.”
Perez – a £1.5 million signing in 2014 (The Daily Mail) – is certainly gaining plaudits right now and rightly so.
He looks a different player to the one that started the season, and Newcastle have him to thank for their relatively comfortable finish to the season.
There are no guarantees he’ll be sticking around at the end of the season, with Real Sociedad and Napoli having both reportedly shown interest recently (Chronicle Live).
It’ll be vital for Newcastle to keep hold of him as they are finally starting to see him realise his potential.