There will not be a Newcastle United fan in the country who did not witness Ayoze Perez’s brilliance in the 3-1 win over Southampton on Saturday.
The 25-year-old scored a stunning hat-trick to claim all three points and ensure that the Magpies were mathematically safe from the Premier League drop this season, and it is safe to say that it has been a remarkable turnaround for the Spaniard, who was getting criticised for his displays at the start of the campaign.
Things could not be more different now if they tried, and that is all down to one player in particular – Miguel Almiron.
The Paraguayan has been a breath of fresh air since he arrived in January, and the difference he has made to Perez’s form recently will surely have many fans bowing down to him.
He has created the space on the pitch to allow Perez to thrive that little bit more, rather than bear the burden of being one of the only creative players in the team. Almiron draws defenders out of Perez’ way, with the result being what we witnessed from the £45,000-a-week [Spotrac] player on Saturday.
However, you cannot help but consider just how effective he will remain to be now that Almiron has sustained an injury, the Paraguayan limping off in tears and his father confirming he is set to be out for the rest of the season.
His other creative outlet will not be there to support him, and that must be something that Rafa Benitez is surely dreading – his form will surely sink like a stone as a result of his teammate’s absence.
He should be tearing his hair out at the prospect of Perez slowly declining without his partner in crime. This means that his team are likely to be starved of goals, and that would be a shame after the way in which they have performed recently.