Once it became official Rafa Benitez was no longer going to remain at Newcastle, it was all but certain that Salomon Rondon would not be returning either.
Rafa immediately joined Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang after his contract with Newcastle expired. Around 3 weeks later, he convinced his new club to stump the £16.5m release clause in Rondon’s contract with West Brom.
So far, Rondon has played well in China, scoring 3 goals in his 8 appearances. Dalian Yifang are currently situated in 7th place with 5 games remaining in their season. Last year they finished in the 11th spot.
Salomon Rondon has given an interview in Todo Fichajes which has been translated by the Chronicle. He reflects on the situation that transpired over the summer with Newcastle and Dalian Yifang:
“I would have continued in Newcastle if they had given me the opportunity, but I couldn’t. Now I am very happy in China. The league is quite different and the language is totally different, but it is a matter of adapting.
“He (Rafa) asks me if I am interested in coming and of course I say yes. I know him, his coaching staff, and I think it was an opportunity for me. I owe it to him for all the advice he gave me – he empowered me when I was there [at Newcastle].”
One of the issues that led to the departure of Rafa Benitez was Newcastle’s transfer policy of only signing players aged 26 or younger. Once Rafa was gone, there was no chance of signing Salomon.
Rondon was outstanding for Newcastle last term winning player of the year honors. He scored 11 league goals and also provided 7 assists. His absence is still being felt at the club as his replacement Joelinton continues to adapt to the Premier League.
It is still early for the 23-year-old Brazilian, and he is far from the final product. He has shown improvement in his hold-up play over his first two months. The big question with Joelinton is if he can get the goals necessary to keep Newcastle out of trouble.