Former Barcelona director of football Andoni Zubizarreta has revealed his side failed in signing Ayoze Perez before he joined Newcastle United in 2014. The striker came up through the ranks of Spanish club Tenerife's youth setup, before being promoted to their first team in 2012.
The 22-year-old scored 16 goals for Tenerife, while he was playing in the Spanish Seguna Division. His form had attracted interest from the Catalan giants as they wanted to secure his services and include him in the Barcelona B-team before promoting him to the first team.
However, Perez rejected a chance to join the treble winners and made a switch to England as he joined Newcastle. Zubizarreta claims Barcelona made efforts to sign the Spaniard, only for it to not take shape at the end.
"A player I couldn't sign? We tried to sign Ayoze Perez. I thought he was an interesting player, first for the B-team — like Denis [Suarez]," Zubizarreta said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
Perez has scored five goals and registered two assists in 23 league appearances for the Tyneside club, despite their struggle. His form for Newcastle has not gone unnoticed as Manchester United were keen on landing him to bolster their strike force, according to the Telegraph.
The player himself admitted that he is flattered by reports linking him with a move to Old Trafford. Speaking to IBTimes UK in December, Perez said, "I just know the same as you. What I hear, what I read... It is a great pleasure for me [to be linked with Tottenham Hotspur and United]. It is incredible, something very big and that's because I'm doing well but I must go on. It's my job."
"You never know. Football takes many turns. Today in fact I am a substitute [at Newcastle]. I am working hard to be in the manager's starting plans. That's all I think: to work. Then the fruits arrive. I am very happy at Newcastle."