Striker Ayoze Perez sees '˜bright future' for Newcastle

Magpie Ayoze Perez battles against Chelsea. Picture by Frank ReidMagpie Ayoze Perez battles against Chelsea. Picture by Frank Reid
Magpie Ayoze Perez battles against Chelsea. Picture by Frank Reid
Ayoze Perez says he has high hopes for Newcastle United next season.

Perez helped the club finish 10th in the Premier League last term.

The forward – who ended the campaign as the club’s eight-goal leading goalscorer – netted six times in the final weeks of the season.

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Perez believes the club can push on further up the table next season.

“The football club has to keep getting better,” said the 24-year-old.

“Things are improving, but still there are lots of things we can do better to make sure we finish higher in the future.

“We need to keep improving – everyone at the club needs to keep getting better – and that’s the main thing.

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“We all have to help each other get better, then the future can be bright.”

Newcastle have sold out St James’s Park since Rafa Benitez succeeded Steve McClaren as manager at the club in April 2016.

There have been flag displays at home games, and Perez – who netted twice in United’s 3-0 win over Chelsea on the final day of the season – believes that the strengthened “connection” between players and fans was a big factor in the team’s success.

“Against Chelsea on the final day of the season, you could feel the connection between the players and the fans,” said Perez. “The atmosphere and environment at St James’s Park was unbelievable.

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“The supporters helped us get wins across the season and to keep us in the division and to finish in 10th place.

“The fans are a crucial part of this club, and we, as players, are really happy to play in this environment.”

Meanwhile, Athletic Bilbao have again been linked with a move for midfielder Mikel Merino, who joined Newcastle, initially on loan, from Borussia Dortmund last summer.

The 21-year-old, under contract at St James’s Park until 2022, found his opportunities at United in the second half of the season.

And Merino, frustrated at a lack of playing time, said late last season that he would “clear his mind” during the break.

Bilbao are reportedly preparing a bid for the Spain Under-21 international.