Rafael Benitez backing Salomon Rondon to provide competition to Everton forwards
Everton manager Rafael Benitez believes new signing Salomon Rondon can bring some much-needed competition to his forward line.
England international Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been the undisputed first-choice central striker for the last two seasons, with Richarlison occasionally playing alongside or filling in when he was absent.
But back-up from the bench has been weak with the likes of Cenk Tosun, Moise Kean and Josh King barely offering anything in terms of goalscoring support.
While Rondon has hardly been prolific in previous spells with West Brom and Newcastle, scoring 35 goals in 140 Premier League appearances for the two clubs, Benitez believes he has plenty of qualities to be an able deputy.
“When we signed him we were looking for a striker who could hold the ball and be good in the air and make a contribution to the team attacking and defending,” said the Toffees boss, who has worked with the Venezuela international at Newcastle and Chinese Premier League side Dalian Professional.
“When we started the transfer window we were looking for big names who could make a difference and impact and it is not easy to attract these players, especially with the (financial fair play) conditions we had.
“I knew some players could be good in the Premier League because they had the experience and Salomon was one of these players.
“He knows he is coming to challenge and compete for the position.
“He knows he is starting behind Dominic and Richarlison but he is competitive and this competition had to be good for us.
“If any of the strikers are not going well at any time he can be pushing (them) and be a good addition for us.”
Rondon turns 32 next week but Benitez does not believe that is an issue because he is well aware the attitude the striker has and he believes taking a huge pay cut to return to England proves his commitment.
And the former Malaga and Zenit St Petersburg forward could get a chance to show that for the first time against Burnley on Monday.
“When we had the opportunity to bring someone here, with the market and FFP rules, and convince a player he was coming and losing a lot of money to come to the Premier League it was not very difficult,” he added.
“He was happy to change and come here and give us what we are expecting from him: someone who will fight at the top with the centre-back, link with the other players and he will score goals with his head or his feet.
“He is someone who will give everything to the team and hopefully he will be successful in front of goal.”