Rafa Benitez has told EvertonTV that he is confident Salomon Rondon can deliver what he expects of the striker at Everton, as he prepares to face Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday.
Rondon made his maiden Toffees start at Aston Villa on Saturday after moving to Goodison Park for free this summer. He agreed a Deadline Day deal to join the Blues on a two-year contract after leaving Chinese outfit Dalian Pro.
The Venezuelan will likely make his second start at QPR in the Carabao Cup with Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured. Benitez is without his three-goal joint-top-scorer due to a quadriceps problem that will sideline him for two to three weeks.
Benitez was reluctant to rush Rondon into action as he lacked fitness when joining Everton. The 32-year-old had not played since the end of a loan spell with CSKA Moscow in May.
Rondon’s first action in Royal Blue came in a nine-minute cameo during the closing stages of Everton’s win over Burnley. He now has 72-minutes to his name after facing Aston Villa, and Benitez is increasingly confident the 83-cap international can show why he was signed.
“Our fans are clever and understand the situation,” Benitez said. “We needed to bring a player with experience in the Premier League and who could be a back-up. He didn’t play for four months, so we were not expecting he could play a full game so quickly.
“He has recovered well and will be ready. But the problem is, when a player is not fully fit, every time you put him on the pitch, you have to see how much [time] he needs to recover. He is positive and training well, so I expect he can give us what we are expecting from him.”
Will Rondon be a good signing for Everton under Benitez?
Benitez will hope he can unlock the same potential from Rondon at Everton that the striker displayed with Newcastle United. The Venezuelan scored 11 and provided seven assists in 32 Premier League appearances under the Spaniard at St James’ Park.
He is yet to open his Blues account in either category after a trying first start at Aston Villa. Rondon held the ball up well, but could not fashion enough promising chances to find the back of the net. He also tired as the game wore on, given his lack of action since May.
Starting Tuesday’s cup clash at QPR will help Rondon regain his sharpness to fulfil Benitez’s expectations during his Everton stay. Which he can then carry into Saturday’s meeting with Norwich in the league, as the Toffees build up to visiting Manchester United on October 2.