We’re now over a week into the summer transfer window, yet it still seems quite clear that Mike Ashley has serious reservations over a permanent deal for Salomon Rondon.
If I told you this was a Championship player that struggled to score goals for West Brom, then you may just understand his approach, but Ashley’s reluctance to activate his £16.5m release clause is absolutely staggering given the season he’s just had at St James’ Park.
We all know about his tedious transfer policy, with him demanding that Rafa now signs players under the age of 26 with high potential and sell on value, but Rondon must be an exception to that rule.
Here’s a few reasons why Ashley’s reluctance to do a deal is inexcusable this time around:
12 goals and 7 assists
A season-long loan can act as a ‘try before you buy’ and, with 12 goals and 7 assists, Salomon Rondon has passed the initial test for any striker with flying colours.
It’s been his best season in England to date, highlighting how he’s thrived under a top manager like Rafa Benitez, with him not only finishing emphatically more often than not, but also having a knack of setting up others.
Getting into double figures in a struggling Premier League side is impressive as it is, but adding 7 assists to your tally says a lot about his all round play and ability to bring others into play.
Involved in 43% of our Premier League goals
We scored 42 goals in the Premier League across the 2018/19 season, and Salomon Rondon was involved in 18 of them.
Take his 11 Premier League goals and 7 top flight assists away and we’d be relegated.
That should be food for thought for Mike Ashley given the likes of Gayle, Joselu and Muto haven’t scored just 13 Premier League goals between them since we earned promotion back to the big time two years ago.
Our ‘Player of the Season’ – The first striker since Alan Shearer
This award tells you one thing – Salomon Rondon has been our best and most influential player across the 2018/19 season.
If that doesn’t set alarm bells off telling Mike Ashley he’s a player he must sign, I don’t know what will?
Alan Shearer was the last striker to win a Player of the Season award at St James’ Park (2003/04) – and there’s been several good ones since then (Ba, Cisse, Carroll, Remy). That said, Mike Ashley is no doubt totally oblivious to this as he looks for the best online casinos in America!
Only at Mike Ashley’s Newcastle could you see a loan man come in and win the big end of season award, only for us to then opt against signing him.
Offers MUCH more than just goals and assists
Rondon’s goals have been huge this season – and they are undoubtedly the main thing a striker is judged on – but his all round play and overall contribution has been invaluable.
Not only is he the man most likely to pop up with that big goal or vital assist, he’s a constant handful for centre-backs, he battles for every ball, has superb work rate and links the play superbly – with him able to bring the best out of Perez and Almiron.
Ashley may think he can sign some 24-year-old who’s been scoring goals in France, Belgium or Spain, believing they’ll be able to do the same job. Unless he’s prepared to pay huge money, he’s in for a shock.
I’d be shocked if our scouts can find a player available for less than £20m who can contribute to 19 goals over a season (12 goals / 7 assists), all while holding up the ball, running themselves into the ground, being a constant presence and bringing the best out of the players around them.
£16.5m is peanuts…whether he’s approaching 30 or not.
In a world where average strikers who struggle to get into double figures cost £20m, it’s baffling that Ashley can’t see value in a £16.5m deal for a proven Premier League forward in Rondon.
Does Ashley honestly think he’s going to get better for the same price?
Let me run you threw a few example of strikers who’ve cost Premier League sides big money but struggled:
- Andre Gray – Watford (£18m) – 14 goals in 67 games
- Cenk Tosun – Everton (£20m) – 9 goals in 43 games
- Islam Slimani – Leicester (£27m) – 13 goals in 46 games
- Vincent Janssen – Spurs (£20m) – 6 goals in 42 games
- Kelechi Iheanacho – Leicester (£25m) – 10 goals in 63 games
- Christian Benteke – Crystal Palace (£28m) – 21 goals in 90 games
- Lucas Perez – Arsenal (£18m) – 7 goals in 21 games
- Ahmed Musa – Leicester (£17.5m) – 5 goals in 33 games
- Oumar Niasse – Everton (£16m) – 9 goals in 39 games
- Jurgen Locadia – Brighton (£15m) – 6 goals in 41 games
- Manolo Gabbiadini – Southampton (£15m) – 12 goals in 60 games
If it were based on sports betting odds, a striker arriving from abroad for big money would be odds on to struggle in their first season.
What’s even more baffling is the Chronicle claim we’re discussing a deal for Hoffenheim’s 22-year-old Brazilian talent Joelinton – a player who’s set to cost double Rondon’s fee despite scoring just 7 goals in Germany last season.
Refusing to sign a player that doesn’t fit in your transfer policy is one thing, but maintaining that stance after he’s just done all of the above is absolutely inexcusable, showing once again how little Mike Ashley knows about the sport he’s invested in.