Salomon Rondon playing his way towards a permanent transfer to Newcastle United, says Rafa Benitez

The Venezuela striker, 29, scored his fourth goal in six matches to give Benitez’s side a crucial victory at Premier League relegation rivals Huddersfield

Mike Whalley
Sunday 16 December 2018 14:46 GMT
Salomon Rondon is currently in form at Newcastle
Salomon Rondon is currently in form at Newcastle (Getty)

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Salomon Rondon is playing his way towards a permanent move to Newcastle United, manager Rafa Benitez has indicated.

The Venezuela striker, 29, scored his fourth goal in six matches to give Benitez’s side a crucial victory at Premier League relegation rivals Huddersfield, and demonstrated once again why he is so critical to his team’s cause.

Rondon’s work ethic and finishing ability add a threat to a Newcastle side who look blunt otherwise, and his goals could well make the difference between staying up and going down come May.

Benitez wanted to sign the striker permanently during the summer, but the club’s board refused to sanction the £16.5million it would have cost to sign him from West Brom at the time.

However, when the striker’s release clause expired in August, Newcastle were able to get a loan swap deal done, with Dwight Gayle going to The Hawthorns for the season in exchange.

Benitez is looking at the possibility of getting a permanent deal for Rondon done in January, although he is prepared to wait until the end of the season for a forward who has a contract with Albion until 2020.

The Newcastle manager said: “It will be fine. Hopefully he can start scoring a lot of goals, and then you can ask me this in a few weeks and hopefully it can be positive then, too.

“I am happy with him, but still he can improve. I think he is doing a great job for the team, but we maybe have to support him a little bit more.

“If he has more support, if he has more crosses and passes into him, then he will score more goals because he can do it.

“Anyone can do it if you give them more assists, but I think with Salomon, if the team puts the ball in the right position then he will also be on the end of the crosses, or at the end of the passes.”

Victory moved Newcastle clear of the bottom three, after a run of three matches without a win, and justified the decision of their players to cancel a planned Christmas party in London over the weekend.

Midfielder Ki Sung-yueng said: “The players are more focused on the pitch than having a Christmas party. We can have a Christmas party whenever we want. Maybe in March. This is the priority for us, to stay up in the league first.”

Ki Sung-yueng of Newcastle United
Ki Sung-yueng of Newcastle United (Getty)

Ki, who has established himself impressively in midfield while Jonjo Shelvey has been recovering from a thigh injury, is set to join the South Korea squad after next weekend for the Asian Cup, and could be away until early February.

He said that Newcastle were talking to the Korea Football Association to try to delay his departure. “I think they are talking, there are negotiations,” he said. “It’s too many games I’ll be missing!”

Huddersfield are deep in relegation trouble after four successive defeats, and missed the creativity of midfielder Aaron Mooy, who with be out until February with a knee injury.

But wing-back Chris Lowe said: “Of course we can get goals without Aaron in the team. It shouldn’t be an excuse, now that he is injured, that means we are not able to score or win games.”

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