Newcastle United have finally completed the loan signing of Salomon Rondon from West Brom. The season-long deal sees Dwight Gayle move in the opposite direction to spend the campaign back in the Championship.
A new striker was at the top of Rafa Benitez’s wish-list for this summer, as he wanted a player capable of leading the line and offering a regular goal threat. This was something that was severely lacking during Newcastle’s first season back in the Premier League.
Rondon arrives with Premier League experience and he fits the profile of striker that will suit a Benitez team. He is powerful and aggressive in the air, while his hold-up play is very good. Meanwhile, he is dynamic in possession and capable of beating opposition defenders on the dribble.
He takes the famous number nine shirt on arrival and will start the season as Newcastle’s premier striker. There is a lot of pressure on him to deliver, but he has the belief of Benitez and the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some excellent strikers at St James’ Park.
Winner – Rafa Benitez
The Spaniard has been critical of his bosses this season over the lack of summer signings, but Rondon was one of his main targets this summer and he has been signed. Although the manner of the deal may annoy Benitez, he does have the Venezuelan international for the coming season and that is a positive.
Rondon has proven himself in the Premier League with 24 goals over the last three seasons. His contribution doesn’t seem impressive on the face of it, but he has been feeding on scraps at West Brom.
Benitez is very good at building a system to get the best out of his players and Rondon is the perfect lone striker. He is dominant in the air as shown by an average of 4.5 successful aerial duals per match last season. Meanwhile, he is good with the ball at his feet and capable of beating a defender on the dribble.
Loser – Joselu
Last summer, Joselu was the main striking signing and it became apparent that he wasn’t a Premier League starting striker. He works hard for the team, but he isn’t a natural finisher and he wasted a lot of the chances that were created for him.
During pre-season, he has been the regular striker, but he has flattered to deceive again as he hasn’t looked sharp in front of goal.
Benitez is a fan of his compatriot as he works well in a system, but his game-time will be reduced significantly by the signing of Rondon. The new number nine is better in every aspect of his game and he will quickly become the first choice striker at St James’ Park.