Matt Ritchie has made some interesting comments about Salomon Rondon – revealing how the former loan star arrived “overweight”, but soon showed what a monster he was both on the pitch and in training.
The Venezuelan enjoyed an outstanding season at St James’ Park, winning our player of the year award following 12 goals, 7 assists and countless superb all round displays up top.
That said, his start to life on Tyneside wasn’t easy, with Ritchie revealing how he arrived “dead heavy” and barely trained during his first few weeks under Rafa Benitez.
Here’s what he said about Rondon when picking him in his ‘Dream XI’ during a chat with In The Box, discussing his
“I remember him at West Brom – I think he scored against Liverpool – and I just thought ‘this guy is a machine’ and that was three years before we signed him,”
“We got him at Newcastle, he was overweight, dead heavy, didn’t really train, played a few and got injured – he just didn’t really get started – but this guy’s pure desire is to fight.
Ritchie then revealed what he was like to play alongside in training, recalling some of the “unbelievable” battles he witnessed when Rondon came toe to toe with club captain Jamaal Lascelles:
“He just wants to fight. In training, he’d want to pin people.
“Him and Jamaal in training every day, they’d be going at each other.
“It was a joke, and unbelievable.”
What a loan signing Rondon was, albeit a bittersweet one given we refused to pursue a permanent deal last summer, allowing him the opportunity to join Rafa Benitez in China as a result.
There were claims his wage demands were huge and that the deal would’ve cost MUCH more than the ‘£16.5m’ fee reported, but it’s also clear Mike Ashley and Co had zero interest in signing a 30-year-old permanently – not matter how influential he proved to be both on and off the pitch!
Looking back, what an absolute beast he was when fully fit. His hold up play and passion was one thing, but his involvement in 19 goals (12G & 7A) in a team that often left him so isolated took some doing too.
I don’t remember him missing when he got a chance, always remember him holding up the ball exceptionally, bringing others into play, bullying CB’s and giving us a constant out ball.
I’d have him back in a heartbeat!