The Spaniard has also aimed a sly dig of sorts in Ashley’s direction when asked about the pressure that could come with Almiron’s £21m arrival, saying none should exist given ‘after five windows of being in profit’.
Firstly, here’s what he’s had to say when assessing Rondon’s future at the club – hinting that it should be straight forward for the club to pursue him on a permanent deal this summer given how good he’s been:
“Everybody can see he is doing well.
“Always it is a problem or a risk to sign anyone in the Premier League because it is very demanding. But when they have been here in the Premier League, and after they come here and they perform, it is an easy decision.”
“He is playing well, he is scoring goals, he is giving others the opportunity to go forward, he is doing a lot of good things.”
We all know Ashley’s transfer policy sees him prefer to sign younger players with high potential (clearly for sell on purposes), however this approach is going to have to change if Rafa or Rondon are to stay.
Rafa then spoke about Almiron’s arrival, playing down the idea that he’s under pressure after Ashley finally sanctioned a big money deal for his top January target:
“After five windows when we are in profit, I do not have any pressure,”
“For us, the main thing , we are bringing in a player who was in the MLS so we know he needs to adapt. But he has the pace, the runs and the ability. We will see if he is strong enough to do the same thing as he was doing in the MLS on the ball and without the ball.
“I would say he is different to the players we have. And that is what we were looking for, running in between the lines and behind the defenders and score goals and make passes.
“He is very dynamic and quick (but) I think he can cope with that (physicality) in games.”
“When you talk with him, he is ready, mentally he is ready and he says he wants to play and is available. You can see him in training, he is very dynamic, he is always involved, so that is fine.”
Ashley won’t like Benitez’s first line here, but he can’t argue with the facts.
If Mike was constantly spending big bucks and seeing it go down the drain it would be different, but the Almiron fee isn’t coming out of his pocket.
Until Ashley starting spends the cash received from TV deals and reinvests the money taken from player sales, Rafa has every right to take this stance.
After all, he was promised ‘every penny’ just last summer, and it’s fair to say he’s received a fraction of that – even after a Almiron deal that could end up costing £21m.