Ayoze Pérez

Ayoze Pérez's First Year On Filbert Way

Ayoze Pérez celebrates his 27th birthday today (29 July) just over a year after joining Leicester City from Newcastle United in the summer of 2019.

Over the past 12 months, 'Ayo' has become an integral member of Brendan Rodgers' squad, helping the Club achieve its second-best Premier League finish in his maiden campaign as a Fox.

The Tenerife-born forward made 40 appearances in all competitions for Leicester, scoring eight goals, and was central to some of the most memorable occasions in City's recent history.

To help celebrate Pérez's birthday, LCFC.com looks back on five highlights of his Foxes career so far, starting with the excitement which followed his signing...

#HolaPérez!

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Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez

Ayoze Pérez joined Leicester City on 4 July, 2019 and immediately outlined his ambition to play in Europe for the Club.

Ayoze was Leicester City's second signing of the summer on 4 July, 2019 as Rodgers fine-tuned his squad for a bid to break into the Premier League's top six during his first full season as manager.

Pérez had become a nuisance for the Foxes over previous campaigns, scoring on his last two visits to Leicester, and was a three-time winner of the Magpies' Goal of the Season award.

Speaking to LCFC TV after agreeing a four-year contract at King Power Stadium, he said: “I’m very happy and very pleased. I’m very proud to be part of the Leicester family and I can’t wait to get started.

“The Club want to keep growing and that’s something I like. I spoke with the manager and that was important. That made me feel very comfortable about the decision to come here.

“Obviously, as a collective, we have to keep looking forward to try to get into the European positions,” he added. “That’s the ambition, that’s where we have to think.”

A hat-trick hero

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Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez

A delirious night on the south coast ended with a hat-trick for Ayoze Pérez in City's 9-0 win over Southampton.

Pérez got off the mark in Leicester's colours in explosive fashion, netting a sublime hat-trick in the biggest top-flight away victory ever achieved by any team in 131 years on 25 October, 2019.

Leicester defeated Southampton 9-0 at St. Mary's Stadium in torrential rainfall as Ayoze and Jamie Vardy became the first team-mates to score a hat-trick in a single Premier League match since 2003.

His first goal of the night was simply brilliant, charging through the Saints' backline to play a neat one-two with Youri Tielemans, before riffling it past Angus Gunn in front of the travelling Blue Army.

The former Newcastle forward was there again before the break as Ben Chilwell floated an inch-perfect cross to the far post, for Pérez to finish on the half-volley in some style.

Next up, it was Harvey Barnes' turn to lay it off to his new colleague, scooping a ball over the defenders and Pérez did the rest, chesting it down and volleying into the back of the net.

A return to the North East

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Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez

A goal at his former club during a big win for Leicester at Newcastle.

After five years at Newcastle United, Ayoze returned to St. James' Park for the first time in the Premier League, to help seal a 3-0 triumph for the Foxes in the North East.

He found the net, too, in the 36th minute when Florian Lejeune played a hazardous ball across the home side's backline, inviting Pérez to win back possession and convert past Martin Dúbravka.

In truth, the Toon suffered a huge slice of bad luck during the game with Jetro Willems, Javier Manquillo, Fabian Schär and Jonjo Shelvey all injured, leaving them with 10 men on the field at the end.

The Foxes capitalised, though, and added two more goals - long-range stunners from James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury - to wrap up an impressive three points for the visitors.

Pérez's role in the bigger picture, meanwhile, was shown by Leicester averaging 77.1 per cent possession - their highest figure in a Premier League away game since the start of the 2003/04 season.

A brace on Filbert Way

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Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez

Ayoze Pérez netted a brace against the Hammers to maintain Leicester's momentum.

Up until Wednesday 22 January, all of Pérez's goals for the Foxes were away from home, but that run came to an end with a brilliant individual performance against West Ham United.

After earlier efforts from Barnes and Ricardo Pereira, Leicester were in relative control, but Vardy's exit due to injury and a Mark Noble penalty caused some concern in the stands as time ticked by.

However, when City won a spot-kick of their own with nine minutes remaining, up stepped Pérez to fire home a fine penalty to restore the Foxes' two-goal advantage late on.

The Spaniard added another goal to his tally shortly afterwards, as Kelechi Iheanacho teed him up to send a low finish beyond Darren Randolph, to seal a 4-1 success for Rodgers' men.

It was also Leicester's eighth home victory in the Premier League during the 2019/20 season - their highest-ever total during the first 12 home games of a league campaign.

European football

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Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez

A goal against Sheffield United confirms the Club's return to the European stage.

A Leicester squad hit by injuries in the final weeks of the 2019/20 season nonetheless knew a victory over Chris Wilder's Sheffield United would seal UEFA Europa League qualification in July.

Without both Chilwell and Christian Fuchs for the behind-closed-doors encounter with the high-flying Blades, in came youngster Luke Thomas, and he linked up perfectly with Pérez for City's opener.

With 29 minutes on the clock, the Academy graduate dragged the ball back across the edge of the penalty area, allowing Pérez to take a touch and send a low effort into Dean Henderson's bottom corner.

It got better for the Foxes, too, as Demarai Gray added a second goal in the latter stages to secure a return to European competition for the first time since the 2016/17 campaign.

"That was my goal (European qualification) when I signed for Leicester," the now-27-year-old explained in the days following the victory. "Being in this position is special."

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