Salomon Rondon has been speaking about his move to China this week – and he’s hinted that he would’ve signed permanently at St James’ Park if Mike Ashley had sanctioned a deal.
The Venezuelan striker had a brilliant season on loan with us last year, despite some initial cynicism about his strike rate at West Brom, and forged a potent partnership with Ayoze Perez and Miguel Almiron.
He was available for just £16.5m, but was considered too expensive for his age by the Newcastle hierarchy (well, I mean Mike Ashley) because at 30 years old, he basically had no sell on value.
On that note, it shows the mentality of Ashley that he wouldn’t pay £16.5m for Rondon yet was demanding £20m for Dwight Gayle, who in fact is only one month younger.
Anyway I digress. Here’s Rondon talking about China, Rafa and Newcastle:
“My transfer to Chinese football was somewhat sudden.
“I would have continued in Newcastle if they had given me the opportunity…
“Now I am very happy in China, the league is quite different and the language is totally different, but it’s a matter of adapting. The impact that the Chinese league is having and the money it is investing to grow is something that caught my attention.
“Rafa Benítez gave me the opportunity to come and live this experience and I did not dismiss it. “
“The truth is that I agree again with Rafa Benitez at Dalian Yifang, he was the one who gave the opportunity after I finished the Copa América and well, I think it’s for my year at Newcastle and my good season there.
“I owe it to him for all the advice he gave me, he so empowered me when I was there (at Newcastle). I’ve obviously tried to always heed what he has told me.
“He talks a lot, he’s a very close person, a coach who with every movement corrects you and that to the soccer player, at least to me, I like it.
“I know that the coach is aware of what I do, if I do it well, or if I do it wrong and try to correct myself. It contributes to things and I have improved a lot, it has got the best out of me at Newcastle, so I’m really happy.
“I come here to do the same thing I had been doing all my career and hopefully things go well.
“Rafa was given the chance to come (to Dalian Yifang) and me too. I come because Rafa contacts me, asks me if I am interested in coming and I of course say yes.
“I know him, his coaching staff, and I think it was an opportunity for me.
“I guess that for him too, it is a new challenge, we are talking about a coach who has won practically everything in all the time he has managed and for no one it is a secret that Benítez in the world of football is a very important person. “Rafa gave me the possibility, I came, and here I am quite happy, to improve and keep growing.”
I think every Newcastle fan knew there was no chance of keeping him when it was announced that Rafa was leaving.
It was bitter pill to swallow as his performances from the turn of the year were simply fantastic. I still have faith in Joelinton’s talents, but Rondon is a huge miss this season.
I’m sure Andy Carroll is a brilliant influence in training and personally, I’d start him at Chelsea and take Joelinton out the firing line, but of course, there are no guarantees with his fitness.