Finding a second striker is one of the more difficult tasks in football these days. Those good enough to rival the first choice forward won’t be content with a place on the bench for long periods of time, and the few who are happy to act as a squad filler aren’t of the requisite quality to start for sustained periods of time without there being a noticeable drop off in quality.
It’s perhaps why Salomón Rondon is so in-demand this summer. The West Bromwich Albion forward is a West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea transfer target according to reports in the Mirror, with the three Premier League clubs battling it out to sign the 28-year-old.
He didn’t enjoy the best of seasons with the Baggies last term, netting on just seven occasions – his worst return since moving to England – but he was leading the line in a struggling side who created very little. He’s a striker who relies on service.
When he gets it, he’s a handful. He’s been involved in 31 goals in the three years he’s been playing in the Premier League. It’s not a return that sees him considered to be one of the best but shows he’s something of a reliable goal threat.
Granted, he wouldn’t be playing on a regular basis like he was with WBA – he played over 2,500 minutes in every season – but playing alongside better talents, which he would be, should balance that out.
He could be one of the bargains of the summer, what with the £16million buy-out clause in his deal. His signing won’t necessarily excite fans but it’s the sort of move they will appreciate down the line when the drop off in quality witnessed in previous years isn’t quite as evident.
The Perfect Plan B
Chelsea find themselves in a bit of a predicament. Club record signing Álvaro Morata failed to set the Premier League alight and Antonio Conte replaced him with Olivier Giroud towards the end of the season. The Frenchman seemed to bring the best out of Eden Hazard and finished the campaign with three goals and one assist in 610 minutes for the 2016/17 Premier League champions.
There’s no guarantee that Conte will be at Stamford Bridge next season. Laurent Blanc is tipped to replace the Italian tactician and he may want to rejig his forward options, especially with Morata reportedly wanting to return to Juventus.
In terms of style, Rondon and Giroud are almost identical, as shown in the graphic above. The persona model looks at characteristics of players and helps paint a profile of them. It’s not a long-term solution but if Chelsea want an alternative to the former Arsenal man then the Venezuela international fits the bill.
Spurs moved to bring Fernando Llorente to the club last summer as back-up to Harry Kane but the Spaniard, in his limited opportunities, failed to bed in properly. He scored just five goals, three of which came against Rochdale in the FA Cup, and it’s hard to consider him a reliable replacement to the prolific Kane. At 33 the former Swansea City man isn’t getting any younger, either.
Manuel Pellegrini, the new West Ham boss, is reportedly looking to bolster his forward line with Andy Carroll again struggling for fitness. Manchester United transfer target, and last season’s top scorer with 11, Marko Arnautović should be the man that the club build their attack around.
Though Rondon wouldn’t be a like for like replacement, Pellegrini has shown in the past that he’s not averse to using a target-man and the pair could be a formidable presence in the final third for the Hammers.
The stats don’t paint a picture of a player ready to lead the line of a club with aspirations of European football but at the same time, they’re not horrific. His xG90 of 0.27 last season showed he was getting into fairly dangerous positions on a regular basis for a blunt WBA side. The post-shot xG total, which looks at where the effort lands on target, wasn’t too dissimilar to his actual xG which shows his shot placement isn’t an issue.
He’s never going to be a leading striker but he does breach the gap between first team regulars and squad options. Over the entirety of the season, he could be worth an extra five goals which in turn wins his side six or seven points. Rondon could essentially be the difference maker. For £16million, it’s an absolute no-brainer of a signing.