As you may have seen recently, Rondon has openly expressed his willingness to return to Newcastle United if the opportunity arises.
In an interview with The Guardian, the former number 9 reflects on his spell in the North East, his time in China, and what the future may hold.
Spell in Black and White
Rondon joined the Toon back in August 2018, swapping squad places with Dwight Gayle as the strikers effectively swapped clubs for the 2018/19 season.
It was a deal which suited both parties as Dwight Gayle notched 23 goals for West Brom in the Championship, and Rondon bagged 12 times in black and white.
As any fan will remember from the former number 9’s spell on Tyneside, his game was about so much more than just goals.
The combination link up play with Ayoze Perez, caused the pair to blossom throughout the year, while the addition of Miguel Almiron midway through the season added further firepower to our frontline.
With Rafa Benitez opting for a low block defensive line, it meant that Rondon was often isolated in the transitional phases of the game, but this did not render his effectiveness.
The physical presence, and vast experience possessed by the striker enabled him to bring others into play, highlighted by his 7 assists.
His overall time on Tyneside will be remembered fondly by our fans, but for me, there are some moments that really stand out.
Firstly, it was that bullet header against Bournemouth. After a tough opening to the season, we picked up our first win against Watford, this fixture was then followed by a home game against Bournemouth.
Salomon Rondon certainly stole the show as we recorded consecutive league wins. Netting early on, in the 8th minute he did not ease up. In the 39th minute he doubled his goal tally for the day. Making a powerful burst into the box he get on the end of Kenedy’s brilliant cross, arrowing the ball past Begovic and into the top corner.
The other highlight came down in the capital. Sun shining. Goals galore. All smiles. How much simpler was life back in May 2019!?
In what eventually turned out to be his final game for the club, he certainly was made aware of the affection we held towards him. After netting the fourth goal at Craven Cottage, our away fans were singing Rondon’s name. The striker came over and acknowledged our support, adding further to the party atmosphere.
The striker clearly made an impact both on and off the pitch, scooping up the Player of the Year Award to underline his contributions throughout our successful season.
Making the move to China
As we finished the 2018/19 season in 13th place, a summer of change took place. Of course the departure of Rafa Benitez was met with the most upheaval. With the Spaniard departing the North East, we lost not only a world class manager, but also the ambition and hope he offered us.
The manager was then followed out the door by our top two goalscorers; Salomon Rondon (11), and Ayoze Perez (12).
Our on-loan number 9 was not offered a permanent deal due to his age, with limited re-sell opportunities being attached to the Venezuelan. Ayoze Perez then made the £30 million move to European chasing Leicester City further underlining the sad reality of Mike Ashley’s business model…
We as the fans desperately wanted Rondon to continue his goal scoring habits in the North East, while he frequently expressed his love for Newcastle fans.
In this particular interview with The Guardian, Rondon described St James’ Park as ‘his place’, (Also known as his jungle) admitting he fell in love with the stadium the moment he first stepped on the pitch.
Of course, the decision of who plays for Newcastle United comes down to one man, Mike Ashley. With our owner not deeming Rondon as a valuable investment, all it took was a single phone call from Rafa Benitez to set the Venezuelan on a new footballing journey.
The move to China hasn’t exactly gone to plan for the duo, with poor league form, and of course the breakout of Covid-19.
Rondon explained in the interview how the teams have basically been detained for over two months, training in their separate groups each day. He talks about the challenges of the new modern, with it being difficult to disconnect from the world of football.
On a personal basis, the striker has performed well since the new Chinese Super League season began at the end of July. Scoring 9 goals in 14 games, it takes his goal scoring record to 14 goals in 26 games since arriving in China.
This goal scoring feat puts the Venezuelan 3rd in the leagues top scorer charts, underlining the striker still has plenty in his tank…
Of course the prospect of a player discussing the possibility of leaving their current club is unusual, but Rondon’s current situation is also unusual.
With unexpected twists occurring both on and off the pitch, it seems the chance of a reunion is very much realistic.
From our perspective, the need for another striker is clear for all to see. Callum Wilson is a proven Premier League striker who can certainly burden the responsibility of being our main source of goals. The main issue here is his injury record.
The former Bournemouth man suffered two cruciate ligament ruptures during his time on the South Coast, causing him to miss 55 games in total. If we did lose Wilson to a long term injury, our frontline would be even more depleted than last year.
With Muto spending the year in Spain on loan with SD Eibar, and duo Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll both lacking effectiveness in front of goal, we are so heavily reliant on Wilson. You’d only need to have seen five minutes of the first half against Newport to understand that Carroll cannot be our Premier League frontman…
The idea of bringing Rondon back in January would therefore provide us with cover on this front, while adding a different dimension to our attack.
The form of Rondon’s current team, Dalian Yifang is also a precarious one. To control the potential spread of Covid-19, the Chinese Super League has been split into two ‘Mini Leagues’.
Dalian Yifang were selected in Group A, and since the restart of Chinese football in July, have only mustered 2 wins in 12 games. This poor run of results has left the team submerged in the relegation zone, meaning they will play in the upcoming relegation play offs.
It has not just been matters on the pitch which point towards a potential return for the Venezuelan, of course Covid-19 has had an impact.
With less money going into football clubs all around the world, the astronomical wages of the striker (approx £220k p/w) has become even more prominent.
Add to that the withdrawal of Dalian Wanda, a key sponsor of Dalian Yifang, and you can see why the club may be open to shifting Rondon off their books.
Lets hope that any potential return for Rondon, will also see Rafa Benitez sitting on the plane next to him!
Check out Rondon’s full intervew with The Guardian here.
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