Rafael Benitez’s departure contributed to Ayoze Perez following the manager out of Newcastle United, but he also saw greater ambition at new club Leicester City.
Perez left Newcastle in July after five years on Tyneside, joining Leicester in a reported £30million move.
The Spaniard’s exit was sealed just days after popular coach Benitez ended his reign at St James’ Park, having failed to agree a new deal with controversial owner Mike Ashley.
While Leicester, rebuilding under Brendan Rodgers, represented an enticing prospect for Perez, he acknowledged the timing of the move was no coincidence, with Newcastle’s failure to keep Benitez evidence of a differing approach.
“[Benitez leaving] was a big factor, but also I felt it was time for a change and a new challenge,” Perez told The Athletic. “In this case, Leicester gave me such a great opportunity to come here.
“The ambition of the club and the way they are doing the right things was very important in my decision. Also, as soon as Rafa left, the decision was easier.
“Rafa and Brendan Rodgers, they are two great managers. They are different but they both see football the way I like it. I had a conversation with [Rodgers] before I signed, what I heard and the way he wants to play football is very important.
“We all know how good a manager he is but after that meeting it was easier to make the decision and I am very happy to be playing under him. I can’t wait to get started.
Oh yes! https://t.co/ZmB684sw3F
— Ayoze Perez (@AyozePG) August 3, 2019
“Things could be done better over there at Newcastle, but Leicester have given me the opportunity to do great things hopefully. There is big ambition.
“I think how football works, the way you have to look at football, that is the difference between Leicester and Newcastle. There is big motivation here to keep growing and to get better here at Leicester. I didn’t feel they had it at Newcastle.”
Ashley suggested in an interview with the Daily Mail that Benitez took the “soft option” by leaving Newcastle for a lucrative contract at Dalian Yifang.
Benitez had not offered a response to the owner’s claims, but his latest blog post again clarified his decision to move on.
“[The fans] appreciated the commitment we had when choosing to stay at Newcastle, and the efforts we made to continue being there,” he wrote.
“But unfortunately, as they say in England, ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’.
“A lot of things kept us attached to the club, to the city, and to its fans, but a lack of project, as well as unfulfilled promises, meant we had to look forwards and follow a different path, as others such as Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan have done while continuing to be supported and to support the team.
“There’s nothing wrong with thinking about the past, but it’s also important to look to the future.
“For this reason, all I have left to say is that I truly wish the team and [new Newcastle head coach] Steve Bruce the best for the following season.”
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