Just a few days ago, I was complaining about a lack of real Leicester City transfer news. That turned right around yesterday, as Geoff Peters of TalkSport initially reported that the Foxes were close to a deal for Newcastle United forward Ayoze Perez.
In just a couple of hours several others had weighed in on the subject, revealing that the Spaniard was already in Leicester, possibly to discuss terms or take a medical, and that the two clubs had agreed, or were close to it, a fee of around £30m.
I think the £30m Leicester bid for Ayoze Perez has triggered a buyout clause. Huge money for a player who arrived for £1.7m #NUFC— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) July 2, 2019
The Spaniard’s representatives told the Newcastle Chronicle that an aspiration to do “great things” was part of his decision. Several players, including big summer target Youri Tielemans, have spoken about the promising direction of the club under Rodgers, and ambitions for the top six, but fans will want to know exactly how Perez will help us to achieve that, especially after the performance of our more expensive purchases.
A Goalscoring Option
A constant refrain over the last few seasons has been the lack of a viable alternative to Jamie Vardy. Perez could just be that, having scored 13 in all competitions last year for a defensive Newcastle side, who finished 16th in the Premier League for scoring.
In particular, his ability to get off shots in the penalty area would be a big boost. Only two teams resorted to more long range efforts than us last year, but Perez took over 70% of his shots from inside the box, and could help the Foxes to a more patient approach.
Look at the movement from Ayoze Perez here. As soon as Ritchie takes the first touch, he knows the next step. Fantastic movement across the defender. The header is also a special skill, just to guide it into the far corner. This goal sums up Ayoze Perez. Intelligent player. #LCFC pic.twitter.com/q3s5TLT7Vp— OHftbl (@hxlfspace) July 2, 2019
He can certainly find the net, as Leicester fans have seen on more than one occasion. In fact, Perez comfortably outscored his 8.29xG (per understat.com) suggesting his finishing is good enough even when he’s getting subpar service, which we know can happen here at times.
His scoring is streaky though, there’s no doubt about that. He bagged just two through his first 23 appearances last year, while 8 of his goals came in the last 9. But Vardy has always been the same, and it’s also mitigated by his ability to provide; his 4.03 xA would have been the Foxes’ 4th best total.
A backup for Vardy is great, but for a fee like this you’ve got to hope to hope for an immediate contribution as a starter, with the right wing position currently looking like best bet.
If When Tielemans arrives, the Foxes will have have quite a list of attacking midfielders to play behind Vardy, with James Maddison and Harvey Barnes capably supported by Marc Alrbighton, Demarai Gray and even Ricardo Pereira. A player like Perez, who has experience of playing across all three positions, will allow the manager to mix in whichever of these players he thinks are the best fit on the day.
His ability to cover multiple holes also means that if they were dip further into the transfer market (much bigger if), the club is in no way limited by the positions they can go after.
While his attacking play can through down spells, the 25 year old’s energy and effort are always on display. No attacking player in the premier league totalled more interceptions than Perez, while only West Ham’s Felipe Anderson had more tackles.
That style of play should fit right in, and provide an excellent foil for the pressing of Vardy and Barnes in particular. With those three chasing down defenders, the Foxes will be regularly turning over possession and forcing mistakes.
All in all, I think this is a move fans should be excited for, if and presumably when it happens. Of course, I do end up saying that about nearly every Leicester transfer, but this does feel like a great fit.
We need someone who can play all across the front line, get onto chances inside the box, and join Vardy’s defender hunting pack. Perez ticks all of those boxes and could the 2nd most exciting transfer this week.