Pardew: 'We can help haul Perez to the very top'
Alan Pardew has told blossoming star Ayoze Perez to work on his pace and power if he is to terrorise Premier League defences on a regular basis.
The 21-year-old frontman, who joined the club in a £1.5million switch from Tenerife during the summer, announced himself in style with winners against Tottenham and Liverpool after getting his chance because of injuries in October, and has not looked back since.
However, Pardew has been quick to play down suggestions he could be the next Alan Shearer or Andy Cole, and has identified the areas in which he needs to improve to make the next step.
Pardew said: "He has great technical ability and I have worked with great technical players before. He has the technique that top players have.
"Now we have to transfer that into a physical specimen that can handle this division without taking away his speed and agility. There is a balance there, but he has improved massively.
"It hasn't surprised me, the goals he's scored, because that's his strength. What has surprised me is some of his link-up play and movement. He also has clever, technical feet to get him out of tricky situations. That part of his game has surprised me a bit. He is not the complete package, but he is certainly a great prospect.
"He needs to improve his understanding of the game and his strength, both his speed and power. Retention of the ball is very important at this level and he needs to improve that too.
"But we are talking of a player who can do all that. It's not a million miles away for him. He is a goalscorer who loves scoring goals."
Pardew has been delighted with Perez's contribution to date, which could hardly have been more timely with summer singing Emmanuel Riviere injured and senior striker Papiss Cisse struggling to shake off a persistent knee problem in recent weeks. However, while well aware of his potential, he is desperate to keep the youngster's feet on the ground, and is confident he has a willing learner on his hands.
He said: "He has burst on to the scene and we need to assess him more after three or four months. At the moment, all we can say is he is doing great, and long may that continue. He has the potential to be a player who can reach the very summit of the game, but he is right now a work in progress and the beauty of him is he knows that. It's not like he feels he is the complete player."