Newcastle United confirmed the signing of Salomon Rondon on a season-long loan deal yesterday which sees Dwight Gayle moving in the opposite direction.
The recent news arrives as no great shock to the system as the Venezuela international has been heavily linked with a move to St James’ Park since the beginning of the summer window, but there is reason to be sceptical about Rondon’s ability to transform Newcastle’s attack next season.
Throughout his career at West Bromwich Albion, Rondon was a diligent worker in attack who always gave everything in his power to force the issue in the final-third, but unfortunately his commendable work-rate has rarely been supplemented with genuine quality in the penalty area.
Gayle provided plenty of running in Newcastle’s attack last season, so in some ways it’s fair to argue that the swap is rather like-for-like, although Rondon will provide a greater physical presence at centre-forward.
But what the Magpies need is a mobile forward with the wit and guile to unlock opponents in the final-third, something which Arsenal’s Lucas Perez could have provided in abundance.
However, it’s Newcastle’s Premier League rivals West Ham who look set to sign Perez this summer to bolster their options at centre-forward, as a recent report from BBC suggests he is on the brink of signing for the Hammers.
With Javier Hernandez and the ineffective Jordan Hugil the only natural centre-forwards to chose from in attack, Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to press on with a move for Perez is both shrewd and progressive for the club.
Naturally, the supporters were hoping to see a player with a clinical goal-scoring record arrive at the London Stadium, but the financially appealing deal for Perez is thoroughly understandable on the back of a multi-million spending spree.
Either way, West Ham’s gain is Newcastle’s loss as Perez is exactly the type of player which Rafa Benitez could have done with this summer.
The 29-year-old Spaniard is incredibly versatile and able to slot into a handful of attacking roles, but he is at his most effective when deployed as a centre-forward: Perez bagged 8 goals and provided 6 assists from 35 appearances whilst predominantly playing as a striker during a loan spell with Deportivo La Coruna last season.
It’s important to take his promising contribution into consideration alongside the fact he made more than 2 key passes for every game played with 79 from 35 appearances; his ability to collect the ball in space in the final-third before playing a killer pass is undoubtedly one of the standout features of his game.
The technical quality, creative spark and touch of class which was absent from Newcastle’s performances last season could have been injected with the arrival of Perez, and their failure to capitalise on his availability could eventually come back to haunt them as the season develops.
Newcastle fans – thoughts? Let us know below!