Newcastle fans have taken a shine to West Brom loanee Salomon Rondon, but just how good was the Venezuelan’s debut campaign on Tyneside?
After plenty of failed attempts, the Magpies finally secured the centre forward Rafael Benitez dreamt of last summer, bringing Rondon to the club in a swap deal with West Brom, sending Dwight Gayle in the opposite direction.
The 29 year-old’s release clause is set at £16.5m after the Baggies failed to achieve promotion, so let’s have a look at how he fared this season.
Rondon grabbed 12 goals and seven assists in all competitions, finding the net for the first time in black and white stripes back in August, during a League Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Injuries meant he started slow, but his defining moment came in November when he slammed in a brace during a 2-1 win against Bournemouth at St. James’ Park.
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Not only did the second header remind the Tyneside faithful of a certain all-time leading goalscorer, he hasn’t slowed down since that epic performance. He has not gone more than three games without a goal or assist since downing the Cherries on a day when fans fell in love with their new number nine.
The biggest concern surrounding the striker right now is his age, as Mike Ashley is known to avoid splashing out on players past a certain point in their career.
Rondon missed three league games with a thigh problem across September and October, and as he approaches 30 muscle injuries such as this one will raise a lot of red flags around St. James’ Park.
Rondon was phenomenal for the Magpies this season, doing everything Benitez demands of his number nine.
The 72-cap Venezuelan holds the ball up well, works the channels tirelessly and brings the pacier attackers into play.
However, a league tally of just 11 goals is not enough to justify a perfect grade, so Rondon’s debut season with Newcastle gets a B+.
If the striker does sign permanently this summer, a few extra goals on top of his well-rounded performances would surely put him in the conversation as one of the league’s finest front men.