Date: 7th June 2019 at 7:16am
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Rafa Benitez has landed a mega boost in his pursuit of West Bromwich Albion striker Salomon Rondon, as the Chronicle understand the Venezuelan’s future will remain on the table for as long as possible.

The Baggies forward, who won over the St James’ Park faithful while on loan here to claim the club’s Player of the Year award, has been generating a lot more interest than we would like since the Premier League season drew to a close. But sources close to the player have told the Chronicle that he will leave making a final decision on his future until the last moment, so that we will have every available chance to sign him permanently.

Rondon is understood to have made that his stance as he loved his spell on Tyneside, and is keen to wear our Black and White Number 9 shirt again next season.

However, as has been the case for a while, the feeling coming from United is that the best chance of a deal being struck is if Benitez can win the board over and signs a new contract.

They, and Mike Ashley in particular, have so far not shown a great willingness to meet his £16.5million release clause, thanks to his age, lack of considerable resale value, and his West Brom contract entering its final 12-months in July.

This is, by far, a great boost to our hopes of retaining Rondon, though, as it was recently suggested in the Turkish media that his agent, Juan Rodriguez, is set for talks with Fenerbahce, as the Super Lig side are intent on signing a new striker this summer.

Reports closer to home have also suggested Wolverhampton Wanderers had opened talks with West Brom over the 29-year-old, but, like Ashley, are reluctant to meet his £16.5million release clause.

As for West Ham United, it has been claimed the Irons are willing to meet his release clause, but have so far not fulfilled their speculated advances as they have been prioritising FC Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes, which may lead to one of Isaac Hayden or Jonjo Shelvey leaving for East London now that the Portuguese midfielder has rejected the Hammers’ approach.

 
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