Newcastle United forward Ayoze Perez has been one of manager Rafael Benitez’s most trusted stars this season, featuring more than everyone at St James’ Park bar Matt Ritchie and Martin Dubravka.

However his future on Tyneside does not look to be a certain one, not least because of an interview, as transcribed by the Chronicle, in which he suggested he was looking for a move away from the Magpies, a move back to his homeland Spain seemingly his priority.

Now, as reported by Calcio Mercato, La Liga side Real Betis are said to be keen on his capture this summer and with talks said to have been held last year over his exit, Benitez must be sweating over whether he can keep the 25-year-old on board.

Why is he so important?

As stated, only one outfield player has featured more than Perez this season and the reason for his regular appearances in the side is his willingness to carry out Benitez’s demands on the pitch.

A willing runner with great technical capabilities, he links up the midfield and attack and while he might not be the most efficient number 10 in the league, he is certainly what his manager is looking for.

With an eye for goal and the ability to make things happen in the blink of an eye, he is the perfect blend of hard work and dedication alongside creative flair and imagination.

Losing him would be a big blow this summer.

Is he likely to go?

If Real Betis are the side who are going to try and pounce, Perez has to decide if they are the team where he sees himself furthering his career.

Sitting ninth in La Liga, it is not exactly the step up he would have been looking for – but if it is a move back to Spain he is seeking rather than a new challenge, he might be able to overlook that.

Benitez will no doubt want to keep him on board and Newcastle will charge a premium for his exit, but with these exit links coming so soon after his claims about seeking a new challenge, the manager will not be feeling all that confident.