When Salomon Rondon arrived at West Bromwich Albion in 2015 from Zenit St Petersburg, question marks should have been raised over his ability to perform at the top level.
The Venezuelan forward had been a solid player whilst at Las Palmas and Malaga in Spain. But arriving in England following a spell in Russia, it didn’t look like the most convincing of signings for the Baggies.
That was evident in the largely underwhelming performances he produced. He was meant to be the type of striker to ensure they stayed in the division. However, the exact opposite occurred.
The ironic thing now, though, is that he could be on the verge of joining their fierce rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers. And as twice the player he was when he last played for Albion.
The Daily Mail claims that Wolves have opened talks with West Brom over a possible move which would see them trigger the striker’s release clause of £16.5m.
It’s a mere snip for a Premier League club nowadays and could be a terrific piece of business for each party involved.
Rondon had a terrific season under Rafa Benitez whilst on loan at Newcastle and it’s his efforts in the North East that should have the Molineux faithful excited by his possible arrival.
The powerful 6 ft 1 forward is almost unbeatable on his day, and by bringing him to Wolves, he could solve two of their biggest issues.
This season Wolves were phenomenal against the best sides in the division. From their matches against the top six, they claimed a remarkable 16 points.
Those performances will live long in the memory for Wolves supporters but their displays against some of the more dogged and robust teams were largely forgettable.
To put it simply, Nuno Santo’s men weren’t good enough against teams who like to sit deep. Their 2-0 defeat to Burnley and a 0-0 draw against Brighton towards the back end of the season is enough evidence of their struggles.
You can argue that Nuno has been rather stubborn in these matches, or you can put it down to Wolves not needing to adapt too much last season.
The Midlands club have operated with largely the same system over the last two terms but they were found out in certain matches after being promoted.
Against sides who sit back and invite pressure, they struggled to create chances, largely because they weren’t afforded the time and space to play the expansive football they do against the big teams.
Against the lesser sides, they don’t really have a plan B to go to. This is where Rondon comes in. He is a pure team player and can offer you far more than just goals.
His 11 strikes in the league this campaign were impressive but his all-round game, in particular, came to the fore. Alongside Ayoze Perez, he was excellent and it’s a similar partnership that could be struck alongside Wolves’ own diminutive forward, Diogo Jota.
Rondon is a robust player and loves bringing others into play. His ability to hold the ball up is close to being unmatched in the top-flight. This season, he made 32 key passes. 31 of them were short, something that immediately lends itself to Wolves.
If they finally bring in someone capable of bullying a defence in a different way to Raul Jimenez, then Nuno can strike gold.
This season they were incredibly lucky with injuries and in truth they had to be. Wolves’ squad is rather slim and ahead of a Europa League campaign next season, this is somewhat alarming.
Birmingham Live revealed that Nuno has plans to keep his squad small but the reality is that won’t be possible with all the matches his side may have to play in 2019/20.
There is a real risk of burnout among the Wolves squad, particularly with a number of players heading off to various international tournaments over the summer.
Raul Jimenez played in all 38 Premier League games this term, just two of those matches he appeared as a substitute in. He meanwhile played in six FA Cup clashes too. If you add the Europa League to this it simply won’t be possible for him to play every single game.
As a result, Wolves will need someone like Rondon to share the workload. He is the epitome of a hard worker and is a prime candidate for helping the club achieve what they want to next season.
That will simply be to build on their success. Breaking into the top six is an unrealistic aim for the time being but there’s no reason to suggest they can’t go far in Europe.
Nuno doesn’t necessarily need to add many bodies to his squad over the summer but given the poor efforts of the likes of Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa, signing Rondon might just give Jimenez and Jota a chance to rest.
A Wolves fan shares his most gutting moment of the last 10 years supporting the club in the video below…
The 29-year-old may not have scored a huge number of goals throughout his career but it’s hard to ignore just how good he was this season.
All good teams need a plan B, and in Rondon, Wolves would have the perfect man. They must now do everything they can to convince him to make the 11 mile trip across the Midlands.