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Opinion

Salomon Rondon heads goalscoring charts in China and a case of what might have been

2 weeks ago
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It wasn’t the best of starts for Rafa Benitez and Salomon Rondon in the Chinese Super League this season.

His Dalian Professional side kicked off the season with four defeats and two draws, meaning the last win for Dalian Pro and Rafa Benitez was nine months earlier, on the final day of the 2019 season.

However, three weeks ago, Dalian Pro got an excellent 2-2 draw with top of the group Guangzhou Evergrande.

Since then it has been a very different story, five games unbeaten and climbing to sixth in the table, only three points off fourth.

On Monday Rafa’s team played their latest game, Salomon Rondon giving Dalian Pro a 33rd minute lead, only for an 86th minute equaliser from Shanghai Shenhua to deny them all three points. Obafemi Martins has no goals in five games for Shanghai Shenhua but wasn’t involved yesterday.

A different story for Salomon Rondon though, as in his 11 matches this season, he has been involved in 11 goals with three assists and scoring eight.

This has taken him right to the top of the Chinese Super League goalscoring charts:

8 Salomon Rondon (Dalian Professional)

8 Cédric Bakambu (Beijing Sinobo Guoan)

8 John Mary (Shenzhen FC)

8 Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande)

7 Éder (Jiangsu Suning)

6 Henrique Dourado (Henan Jianye)

6 Marcão (Hebei China Fortune FC)

6 Marko Arnautovic (Shanghai SIPG)

6 Wei Shihao (Guangzhou Evergrande)

Salomon Rondon no doubt reflecting on Mike Ashley’s desperate u-turn this summer.

The owner’s fears of relegation and that of ruining any chance of resurrecting a takeover, leading him to allow yet another 180 degree change of ‘policy’ on player recruitment.

Going from young with potential increased value from weak overseas leagues, to now Premier League experienced.

The chief signing amongst those being 28 year old Callum Wilson.

Back in summer 2018, Mike Ashley refused to allow Rafa Benitez to buy Salomon Rondon for his £16.5m buyout clause because he was too old at 28.

Then in summer 2019, Mike Ashley refused to allow Rafa Benitez to buy Salomon Rondon for his £16.5m buyout clause despite being Newcastle’s player of the year and directly involved in 18 PL goals, scoring 11 and eight assists. The player of the year now 29 and Mike Ashley desperate to force out Rafa and Rondon, to pursue his relentless dream of Newcastle paying £40m+ for Joelinton.

Sadly, Rafa’s relative success in achieving 10th and 13th places on minimal net spend, meant Mike Ashley was in a comfort zone where he felt he could easily manage now with Benitez, with he (Ashley) now wanting to choose the signings.

Since Steve Bruce arrived, Mike Ashley has allowed a net £100m to be spent on players, that much spent and no sales so far during Bruce’s time here.

Signing players shouldn’t be about rigid rules on age, which league, or whatever.

It should be about buying the right players for the club, whatever their age or where they are currently playing.

I wouldn’t have minded seeing Callum Wilson up front with Salomon Rondon for Newcastle United, we could have had them playing here now for combined transfer fees of less than was paid for Joelinton, who now can’t even get in the Newcastle team.

That is Mike Ashley for you.

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