AYOZE PEREZ thinks Newcastle United’s players must focus on succeeding in what is going to be a ‘tough season’ back in the Premier League, as Rafael Benitez continues to wait for progress on the transfer front.

Benitez is desperately waiting to hear that some of the existing member of the Magpies squad are heading for the exit doors, although nothing is close at this stage.

Genoa are known to have contacted Newcastle over the possibility of signing Achraf Lazaar after a disappointing first season in England, which heralded just four appearances.

He is only a year into a five-year deal and he is one of the players who could be sold before the end of the transfer window this month, with Benitez under the impression that his squad needs reducing before he can strengthen again.

Benitez wants Arsenal’s Lucas Perez but managing director Lee Charnley does not want to pay thhe £13.4m for him – or agree to his wages – until a number of players have left. As well Lazaar, the likes of Massadio Haidara, Henri Saivet and Grant Hanley are available.

Newcastle’s preparations for the new Premier League season came to an end on Sunday when they overcame Verona at St James’ Park 2-0.

Ayoze Perez scored one of the two goals and he is hoping to stay in the side when Tottenham open the new campaign on Tyneside this Sunday.

Whatever else happens on the transfer front, Perez knows that life in the top-flight will be hard again but is confident the players can enjoy a productive spell under Benitez.

The Spanish forward said: "The real competition starts now and we know the importance of that. We have to have a balance about our feeling.

“Mentally we have to be ready and focused because it's not going to be an easy season, it's going to be really tough and we have to make sure we do the right things as we have been. It's going to be tough, we must work very hard and then the results will come."

Perez insists, though, that Newcastle will not be heading into the new season predicting anything – nor will they be setting targets publicly.

He said: "We are back and we know exactly what our goal is. We have to go game by game, thinking about the next week and the next game, and that's it.

"We must work as hard as we can because it's going to be tough and if we think we are better than other teams it won't be an easy season.

"We have to think we can beat anyone, but only if we are working as hard as we can and have the right mentality. We cannot think something else because it will be wrong.”

After finishing the pre-season on a high on Sunday, Perez is looking forward to the action starting for real this weekend.

"It's been a great summer, a lot of hard work, which is important then,” he said. “Our fitness is getting better, but it can still be even better, but we are in a good way and we have had some good games against good sides. It's been a good test for the season that is coming and hopefully we can be good in the season.

"It was a great game for the team against Verona. Every game we are feeling better so it was a great test for us before the start of the season. It was a good performance from the team, which is important, so now we need to make sure that we are focused on the league.

"It's a good feeling for us out on the pitch and now we must focus out on the pitch. It is going to be really important for us, the preparation for Sunday, and make sure we get ready for the fight."