REUNITED: Rondon honoured to link up with Benitez again at Everton
PA Richard Sellers
New Everton signing Salomon Rondon credits manager Rafael Benitez with ‘changing his mentality’ during his two previous spells under the Spaniard.
The Venezuela international completed a deadline-day return to the Premier League from China to be reunited with the man who previously signed him for Newcastle and Dalian Professional.
Rondon scored 11 league goals in his one season under Benitez at St James’ Park – only Romelu Lukaku (three times), Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (both twice) and Gylfi Sigurdsson have scored more in a single campaign in the last decade at Goodison Park.
The 31-year-old credits Benitez with improving his all-round game.
“I enjoy playing for Rafa a lot because he is the manager who changed my mentality and how I see the game, what he needs from me to help the team and my team-mates,” he told evertontv.
“We were in Newcastle together and he explained very clearly the main points for a striker. In China, it was the same.
“Now it is the same, again, because I saw the three (Premier League) games Everton played this season and I identify myself with the idea of how Rafa plays.
“Rafa changed the vision I have of football because the team is the most important thing for a club and the players.
“His management of the team is special because, in some games, you have to do extra work, or work really hard to get the points. He showed to the players, you can go to the limits.
“For me, it is an honour, as well, that a manager like Rafa Benitez has confidence in me.
“The dream is coming true, I wanted to go back to the Premier League – and it is with Everton, a big club with a special history in football.”
Rondon is set to be available earlier than anticipated for Everton after opting not to join up with Venezuela for their World Cup qualifiers against Argentina, Peru and Paraguay.
All three countries are on the UK Government’s red list which would have required the striker to quarantine for 10 days on his return and ruled him out of Everton’s restart to the Premier League at home to Burnley on September 13.
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