Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Futures of Spanish Duo Benitez and Perez Linked

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Futures of Spanish Duo Benitez and Perez Linked

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS WAUGH Newcastle United writer

RAFA Benitez expects Ayoze Perez to receive offers this summer - but the Newcastle United manager will fight to keep the forward, as long as he remains in the St James' Park dugout into next season, too.

The 25-year-old forward scored his first-ever Premier League hattrick against Southampton last weekend, before admitting afterwards that he would have a "difficult decision" to make regarding his own future this summer.

Perez has two years remaining on his current Magpies deal and, after scoring 18 league goals across the course of the past two seasons, he is attracting interest from clubs in Spain, including from long-term admirers Real Betis and Real Sociedad.

Earlier this month, Perez also gave an interview out in Spain during which he suggested that, after five years on Tyneside, he was ready for a new challenge.

At the time, Benitez claimed the quotes had been taken out of context but, when provided with an opportunity to explain precisely what he meant last weekend, Perez all-but confirmed that he is undecided on his future.

But his compatriot Benitez is unconcerned by Perez's comments; the United manager already expected offers to come the forward's way because of his excellent form, and the Magpies will be braced to deal with them if they do arrive.

"I think at the end of the season you will see a lot of clubs linked with selling four or five players, and wanting to buy four or five.

Turn to Page 70 FROM BACK PAGE This is normal, everyone is thinking about the future," Benitez replied when asked if he was concerned Perez may depart this summer.

"What will happen with him? I do not see any problem now. Finish the season, see what happens and, if someone comes for this player, or that, it is very normal when players are doing well. …

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