Salomon Rondon says he is desperate to make enough of an impact at St James’ Park to make his Newcastle United move permanent after revealing Rafa Benitez first contacted him about a move to St James’ Park back in June .
Rondon’s revelation that Benitez rang him a few weeks into the summer transfer window throw fresh light on the Spaniard’s determination to get a move for his top striker target sanctioned by the United board.
And Rondon also says that the uncertainty over the protracted negotiations left him in limbo – with West Brom putting him on a different training schedule and keeping him out of pre-season games on the understanding that a move would happen.
That probably explains Benitez’s frustration at the delays in the deal – he is famously meticulous and would have wanted to work on shape and tactics with Rondon as part of the group – but a compromise which saw Dwight Gayle move to West Brom was thrashed out.
Speaking ahead of the trip to Cardiff, the Venezuela striker offered fresh insight into how the deal came about: “I first heard of the interest two months ago but negotiations were difficult. I was just waiting. When I gave the answer that I wanted to come here, I was expecting it to happen but it was difficult,” he said.
“I remember the first call from Rafa (I couldn’t believe it). ‘Hello, this is who?!”. He told me they were interested in me and would I like to come. Of course! It was a pleasure. I obviously know a lot about Rafa in the football world. It is a pleasure to work with him, to see his tactics, his ideas.”
For Rondon – whose contract at West Brom has been extended by an extra 12 months, meaning he will not be available on a free in the summer – the objective is clear.
“Yes, moving here permanently is my personal target. And the only way to do that of course is to score goals train really, really hard to hold on to my place,” he said.
“I feel lucky. Of course. The situation when West Brom went down was difficult and I am just really grateful to be back in the Premier League again.
“Newcastle United all feels very big. Newcastle in the Premier League (is famous). I know all about the amazing South American players who have been here - Solano, Jonas Gutierrez, how really well they did here. In my career, I have played in different leagues with different players and I know this is the biggest move of my career. That is why I want to stay here permanently.”