According to The Shields Gazette, Rafa Benitez has made it known that Salomon Rondon is his ‘No 1 summer target’, however Mike Ashley is said to be questioning the ‘long-term viability’ of the signing – with the 28-year-old set to cost £16.5m plus.
This makes sense to an extent – he’s nearing 30 and he’s scored 28 Premier League goals in three seasons – but it’s a big worry if we begin to see Ashley getting involved in transfers and overruling Rafa from a football perspective.
Plea – the Nice striker we bid £20m for earlier this week – was described as Rafa’s top target by The Chronicle, however it looks like we may have to up our bid considerably if we want to get that one done.
With that in mind, Rondon may be the more realistic and affordable option given the modest budget Benitez appears to be working with.
Here’s what Ross Gregory’s had to say in The Gazette this morning, suggesting that Ashley is reluctant to spend big money on Rondon given his age and likely cost:
‘Salomon Rondon remains Rafa Benitez’s No 1 summer target – despite renewed links with Nicolai Jorgensen and Alassane Plea.
‘Rondon has a clause in his contract which means he can move for just £16.5million after West Bromwich Albion were relegated from the Premier League last season.
‘That represents good business for Benitez, given he is working on a limited budget and also wants to bring in winger Kenedy from Chelsea.
‘Rondon remains the preferred choice for Benitez. The Venezuelan scored 10 goals last season, but is 28, leaving Newcastle owner Mike Ashley unsure of the long-term viability of the signing.
‘That, coupled with doubts over Benitez’s future, has seen slow progress on any potential move for the player. Talks over the Newcastle manager’s future have stalled, with the Spaniard having just a year left on his contract as he seeks reassurances over signings and transfer budgets from the Toon owner.’
I imagine quite a few will be reading this and thinking, ‘Ashley’s actually got a point here’, but this potential intervention from the NUFC owner could be a worrying sign of things to come.
Rafa’s never demanded a huge ‘war chest’ – he’s realistic – but one assurance he does need is to have the final say on signings given the budget he’s been allocated.
If this one’s true, whose side are you on here?