Salomon Rondon hails Everton boss Rafa Benitez before Toffees debut

Salomon Rondon hails Everton boss Rafa Benitez for ‘showing me things I didn’t see in 10 years of football’ as he gears up to make his Toffees debut against Burnley at Goodison Park

  • The Everton forward, aged 31, has expressed his joy in reuniting with Benitez
  • After two years in China, Rondon has decided to return to the Premier League 
  • The Venezuelan international says Benitez ‘changed my view of football’  
  • Rondon also declares ‘I have lost two months of my life in quarantine’ in China

Salomon Rondon has credited Rafa Benitez for educating him about the game as he prepares to make his third debut under the Everton manager.

Rondon was reunited with his former Newcastle and Dalian Professional boss on deadline day when he sealed a move from Chinese football and is available to feature against Burnley on Monday night.

‘Everyone in the world of football knows him,’ said the 31-year-old Venezuela international. ‘I congratulated as he him when I found out he was coming to Everton, then I had to wait because the Chinese Super League is a mess due to Covid.

 The former West Brom striker is set to work under Benitez again after his spell in China

Rondon had a successful loan spell with Newcastle in 2018, scoring 11 Premier League goals

‘Rafa called me in Spain and said “just keep training and don’t eat a lot”. On August the 30th I was still training alone and then on the 31st he said to be ready… Everything moved really fast.

‘I have known Rafa four years and he changed my view of football changed completely. He showed me things I didn’t see in 10 years of playing, how to move into the box, to move for the team and get an advantage against the defender.’

Rondon made himself unavailable for this month’s World Cup qualifiers in order to complete his move to Goodison without quarantine restrictions.

But he hopes governing bodies will sort out differences and allow him to face Brazil in October.

‘It is a tough position but I have to decide what is best for me,’ he says. ‘I have to be realistic with the Covid situation. The pandemic is worse in South America than it is in Europe.

‘South American players want to play for their national teams, but everybody has to understand that the situation is really hard.

The Venezuelan international has spoke on some of the difficulties of living in China

Rondon has been unable to play for Venezuela this month due to Covid restrictions 

‘I have lost these international games and in October we will have to make another decision. I don’t know what is going on. We saw with the Brazil v Argentina game that it is a real mess.

‘In China when the situation was getting worse we spent 15 days without any communication, just closed in the room of the Dalian training ground. We could not do anything. You could not go out to eat. You could not train. You just lost 15 days of your life locked in the room.

‘I respect this was the rules of the country – maybe it could been handled in a different way – but in all I have lost two months of my life in quarantine. It is so hard sitting in a room waiting for tests and food.

The forward spent two years at Dalian Professional including a loan spell at CSKA Moscow

‘I lost weight and all we could to train was push-ups. It is not the same as professional training. You need a strong mind.’

Joining Everton will also allow Rondon to banish the memory of an accidental collision when he played for West Brom against The Blues in 2018 leaving James McCarthy with a broken leg.

Rondon broke down in tears during the game and admits it took him time to get over it.

He added: ‘That incident was important in my life. It is a horrible moment when you are involved in that kind of play in a game. I heard the crack and saw the broken leg.

‘When I got home I could not sleep. I was really happy when I saw him playing again. I never want to see any player suffer like that. I started crying because it was the worst moment in my career.

‘For two or three days after that it was very difficult for me just to train properly. Normally I would fight for the ball. After what happened, I was really careful. I kept seeing the image in my head.’

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