It seems a lot longer than five months since Salomon Rondon last played and scored for Newcastle United.
The player of the year scoring in his and Rafa’s final game, hammering Fulham 4-0 at Craven Cottage.
Fittingly, it was Rondon who scored the final goal of the season in the final minute of the campaign.
The striker scoring 11 goals and getting seven assists despite only 30 Premier League starts.
The figures even better really because once he got fit, Salomon Rondon scored all 11 goals in his final 26 PL starts.
Naturally you wonder what would have happened if Mike Ashley hadn’t forced Rafa Benitez out and refused to make any offer for Salomon Rondon because of his age. Ashley insisting instead on employing a willing patsy in Steve Bruce who has no say on transfers, plus the owner pushing through the £40m transfer of Joelinton, instead of £16.5m on Rondon.
The former loan striker has been interviewed and declares: ‘I would have continued in Newcastle if they had given me the opportunity…’
When that proved not to be a possibility, he was more than happy to meet up again with Rafa Benitez at a different club, signing for Dalian Yifang.
Rondon says he is enjoying life in China and has helped the club climb away from relegation trouble, with five games of the season left, Dalian Yifang are seventh, only four points off fourth with the season ending on 1 December 2019.
Salomon Rondon speaking to Todofichajes:
“My transfer to Chinese football was somewhat sudden.
“I would have continued in Newcastle if they had given me the opportunity…
“Now I am very happy in China, the league is quite different and the language is totally different, but it’s a matter of adapting. The impact that the Chinese league is having and the money it is investing to grow is something that caught my attention.
“Rafa Benítez gave me the opportunity to come and live this experience and I did not dismiss it. “
Rafa Benítez, key in his march to China:
“Yes, the truth is that I agree again with Rafa Benitez at Dalian Yifang, he was the one who gave the opportunity after I finished the Copa América and well, I think it’s for my year at Newcastle and my good season there.
“I owe it to him for all the advice he gave me, he so empowered me when I was there (at Newcastle). I’ve obviously tried to always heed what he has told me.
“He talks a lot, he’s a very close person, a coach who with every movement corrects you and that to the soccer player, at least to me, I like it.
“I know that the coach is aware of what I do, if I do it well, or if I do it wrong and try to correct myself. It contributes to things and I have improved a lot, it has got the best out of me at Newcastle, so I’m really happy.
“I come here to do the same thing I had been doing all my career and hopefully things go well.
“Rafa was given the chance to come (to Dalian Yifang) and me too. I come because Rafa contacts me, asks me if I am interested in coming and I of course say yes.
“I know him, his coaching staff, and I think it was an opportunity for me.
“I guess that for him too, it is a new challenge, we are talking about a coach who has won practically everything in all the time he has managed and for no one it is a secret that Benítez in the world of football is a very important person.
“Rafa gave me the possibility, I came, and here I am quite happy, to improve and keep growing. “
The passion of the Premier League:
“The Premier has something that falls in love with all football lovers. It infects you, it feels like you live a lot of football.
“In my four years there I have felt that for them it is like a religion.
“Even at Christmas and New Year matches are played, something that does not happen in another league in the world. This shows that English football is pure passion. “
Differences between China and European football:
“The differences are quite large. It is a slower football, it is perhaps less physical, at least if I compare it with the Premier, which was the last league where it was.
“It is true that they are making investments not only in this team, but in the rest of the Chinese League teams, bringing players from Europe to give this competition a bit more boom, but it is a pretty complicated league, because it is not reached simply by having a player from Europe to succeed or scored goals, it is not as people think, it is a matter of having to work.
“Although the level is not like that of the Premier for example, but you have to work, be serious, because it’s a demanding league that is growing. “