In recent matches, a problem has been highlighted in the number 10 role.
Newcastle currently have two natural attacking midfielders: Ayoze Perez and Mo Diame. Both have their strengths and weaknesses but both are controversial in the eyes of the fans. Perez is criticised for his poor decision making and being incredibly lightweight; whereas Diame is criticised for being very lazy and not being able to string passes together.
I agree with the Diame criticism as he hasn’t stood out during his Newcastle career; however, I believe Perez gets scapegoated far too much. Yes, he’s not brilliant but the job he puts in is often underappreciated. He’s far more technically gifted than Diame however, this is hindered by his often lackluster decision making.
In my opinion, the club should look to sell Diame and buy a new attacking midfielder; keeping Perez as a backup. One suggested player is Las Palmas’, Jonathan Viera. The stats (from Squawka) show their Viera is a better player than the two. Viera completed 74 key passes, compared to Perez’s 37 and Diame’s 27; Viera got 7 assists compared to Perez’s 6 and Diame’s 3; finally, Viera created 81 chances compared to Perez’s 43 and Diame’s 30.
Having a good attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation is key, especially when Joselu is getting poor service. At the minute; Perez is more suited to Benitez’s system due to his work rate which helps with pressing and chasing down the opposition, this is something Diame can’t do because he is quite lazy (something Lascelles had a *quiet* word to him about.
Until the January transfer, I think Perez should be our starting number 10. Despite the flaws in his game, he is best suited to Rafa’s system. Saying that, we should be looking for a replacement in January as well as a new striker to ensure safety.
Feature image credit: Ben Sutherland