Rondon will turn 30 later this year, meaning he’s a player Ashley’s transfer blue print would prefer not to sign given his age and decreasing value, however it’s quite clear that he’s become a key playr in Benitez’s system.
Rafa’s frustration right now is bound to be the fact we failed to activate the Venezuelan’s £16m release clause over the summer – the first sign that Ashley was not prepared to back Benitez unconditionally.
Here’s what the Chronicle have had to say when assessing Rondon’s future – with the club’s stance on a deal for him having the potential to make or break Benitez’s next move regarding any new contract.
Salomon Rondon’s future may end up playing a pivotal role in Newcastle United’s negotiations with Rafa Benitez over his long-term future .
A big issue for both will be resolving what comes next with Rondon, who is on a season-long loan from West Brom and became a symbol of the differing approaches to recruitment in the summer.
Newcastle attempted to bring Rondon’s future into negotiations with Jacob Murphy but terms proved complicated, with West Brom’s promotion aspirations throwing an unknown into the deal. United had wanted to extend the loan for another year, a sign – perhaps – that the terms of a long-term transfer may still be troublesome for them this summer.
Rondon is a good example of why Benitez’s recruitment ideas are not the same as those of his predecessors. He is not just buying individual players, he is scouting for individuals who have the right character, application, technical ability and willingness to play in his system.
And while there are plenty of target men out there, Rondon was the only one who ticked all of those boxes.
Rondon was a major reason for the recruitment discontent of the summer. While Benitez implored Newcastle to sign the 29-year-old permanently and on a long-term deal in the summer, Newcastle did not have the same enthusiasm for the deal – feeling the player’s age and the wages and length of the contract he was looking for did not stack up.
He has turned out to be an important player for Benitez and the manager would like to keep him. But the fact Newcastle were talking about another year loan tells you much about the reservations that still exist about a potential £16million fee.
For all the talk about the Academy and training ground upgrades, it is these recruitment issues that will ultimately decide whether Benitez stays or not. Newcastle backed his judgement on Miguel Almiron and the hope will be that has proved to the manager that they are willing to move on his targets. But Rondon, given his age and cost, may be the true test of whether the working relationship can survive and prosper enough for Benitez to commit.
Rondon may be entering the twilight years of his career, but his hold up play, his attitude on and off the pitch and invaluable goals and his goal contribution has been absolutely invaluable.
He’s given Rafa and this team everything it lacked last season and a real platform to build on in attack, with 7 goals and 3 assists only telling half the story when you watch just how well he links the play and holds the ball.
I fully expect Ashley to meet half way and pursue another loan deal, but with us having leverage over West Brom – with them currently having Gayle and Murphy on loan – you’d have to think we can ‘go the extra mile’ and back Benitez with a player so key to his short term plans at the club.
Failure to do so and Benitez is bound to wonder if anything’s going to change while Ashley’s around..