So it looks like Rafa Benitez will get to manage Salomon Rondon next season after all, but not in the Black & White of Newcastle.
Benitez left Newcastle after failing to find agreement with the club, with power over transfers said to be a major contributing factor to his departure. Benitez wanted more, Newcastle wanted him to have less.
Now it looks like West Brom striker Rondon is set to reunite with the manager that had so much faith in him, with Football Insider reporting that he has agreed personal terms with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.
They are set to trigger the £16.5million release clause and the report claims that Rondon is set to get a similar wage to the £12million-a-year that Benitez is on.
Benitez had fought for Rondon at Newcastle, was vindicated by his numbers last season (11 goals and seven assists in 32 Premier League games) and wanted him at the club again if he stayed on.
Newcastle will now have to do without not just Rondon, but the club’s top scorer Ayoze Perez as well. And Rondon showed he wasn’t just a goal-scorer but a team player too, forging a very successful partnership with Perez and providing the second-most assists to a single player in the Premier League last season (behind Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth) [WhoScored.com].
If Mike Ashley had agreed to give Benitez more power over transfers, then he, Rondon and perhaps Perez could all still be at St James’ Park.
As it is, Newcastle have lost a brilliant manager and their two biggest goal scorers from last season.
But if Rondon does sign for Dalian Yifang, it won’t just be Newcastle who have lost out, but West Ham as well.
They are desperate to bring in at least one new striker after losing Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Lucas Perez this summer, but have prioritsied a move for Maxi Gomez, which is reportedly still in the balance.
If they don’t land him then Rondon might not be an option for much longer.
£16.5million for a proven Premier League striker is a bargain and West Ham may well regret not triggering his release clause and then focusing on bringing in Gomez too.