Is their any logic to Barcelona's interest in West Brom forward Salomon Rondon?
For years, Catalan giants FC Barcelona have been known for possessing swathes of attacking talent in their ranks. Ronaldo Nazario the great Brazilian forward, Sunni Anderson, the mercurial Ronaldinho, Deco, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry to name but a few. The latest generation of the Holy Trinity up front for them is of course the famous “MSN”, the name bestowed upon the attacking trio of the magical Lionel Messi, the potent Luis Suarez and of course Brazilian trickster Neymar.
With the fact that they have a front three revered and feared across world football, the fact that Barcelona are looking to add to their attacking options at the Camp Nou by recruiting West Bromwich Albion’s Venezuela international forward Salomon Rondon, according to the Daily Mirror, has certainly raised a few eyebrows.
The 6ft 1inch forward has been viewed as somewhat of a flop at the Hawthorns, following is £12million move from Zenit St. Petersburg and only managing nine goals last season. However, after a slow and progressive first season adjusting to the climate of the Premier League, Rondon scored on the opening day of the current campaign, netting the Baggies’ winning goal in their 1-0 triumph at Crystal Palace. With the potential for more goals on the horizon as his stock continues to grow in the Black Country, despite not being necessarily prolific thus far for Albion, there may just be method in the supposed madness of Barcelona’s supposed interest.
It is important to consider that Rondon’s nine goals were managed in a West Brom side that recorded the second lowest total of goals last season in the Premier League. Tony Pulis’ Baggies scored 34 goals in 38 outings, a statistic to which only rock-bottom finishers Aston Villa were worse off. One could argue therefore that Rondon did well to come so close to breaking into double figures given the lack of goals and quite clearly lack of service from elsewhere in the squad.
What Barcelona will be more familiar with however, is that unbeknownst to many supporters in the Premier League, Rondon is already an established goalscorer in Spain’s La Liga.
The Venezuelan made his name in Spain’s Liga Adelante, the Spanish equivalent to the EFL Championship, with ten goals in the 2009/10 season for Canary Island club UD Las Palmas, who had taken a gamble on the the youngster after he netted 15 times for Aragua FC in the Venezuelan Primera División. He became the youngest ever foreign player to score for Las Palmas aged 19 years, 11 months and 17 days, with a strike in the Copa Del Rey against Cádiz, and his contribution of ten goals in the league helped the island side barely avoid relegation. His exploits with Las Palmas earned him a move to Málaga, where he scored 25 La Liga goals over two seasons to surpass compatriot Juan Arango as La Liga’s most prolific Venezuelan player. 14 of those goals came in his maiden campaign with Málaga, where his exploits again dragged the club out of a relegation dogfight to keep them in the top tier.
Playing alongside Ruud Van Nistelrooy and learning much under his tutelage the following season, he netted 11 goals as Málaga finished 4th and secured a Champions League qualification spot, once more finishing as leading scorer at the La Rosaleda outfit.
A less fruitful spell in Russia with Rubin Kazan followed before a stint at Zenit St. Petersburg, where 20 goals in the Russian Premiership earnt the Venezuelan his move to the Premier League with the Albion. He also has 18 goals at international level for Venezuela, including a winning goal in the Copa América in 2015 against a strong Colombia side. Therefore, goals-wise, he has the pedigree, but why a club of Barcelona’s calibre?
Simply put, they don’t possess a great deal in reserve and never really have. Barcelona lack options up front in the absence of any of their starting three up front, particularly so given Arda Turan’s failure to impress after his move to Atlético Madrid. Their only other forward option would be youngster Munir El Haddadi, and there is also a distinct lack of an out-and-out centre-forward who fills the role of a target man who can hold up play if the Blaugrana need to go more direct in matches. He is also a reliable goalscoring option to turn to in order to impact a game and is guaranteed to be a presence in the opposition penalty area, whereas Barcelona’s typically more dynamic forwards don’t possess the same sort of threat, profiting principally from balls into feet along the ground and creating chances that way.
He certainly doesn’t outwardly seem to fit the bill of Barcelona’s typical style, but he does provide another dimension in attack and wouldn’t need to adapt to the unfamiliarity of the league. Though he may not be blessed with the raw pace of others at the club, his strength and ability to escape his man may make him an effective alternative for Luis Suarez should the Uruguayan suffer from injury. His creative force may not render him suitable to directly replace Neymar or Messi for their individual qualities, but he would offer a goal threat and the chance for Barcelona to get balls into the box if necessary.
Bizarre and unprecedented as the interest from Luis Enrique may seem, his history and his attributes show their may just be method in the madness, and if he continues to score goals this season for West Bromwich Albion, then the links can only become more and more justified.
Featured Image: All RIghts Reserved by Asdrubal diaz.
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