Rafa Benitez has told Salomon Rondon to shut out speculation over his future – and focus on scoring more goals for Newcastle United.
The on-loan striker has scored 10 goals in all competitions so far this season.
Rondon – who has netted in Newcastle’s last two Premier League games – will lead the line against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium tonight.
And United manager has revealed details of a conversation he had with Rondon at the club’s training ground after the 29-year-old returned from international duty with Venezuela.
“I bumped into him in corridor, and we were chatting a bit,” said Newcastle’s manager.
“Talking about him scoring against Argentina and then losing to Catalonia, I said ‘everyone is talking about your future’, but told him just concentrate on scoring goals, and that’s it.
Talking about him scoring against Argentina and then losing to Catalonia, I said ‘everyone is talking about your future’, but told him just concentrate on scoring goals, and that’s it.Rafa Benitez
“That’s what he says as well, Everyone wants to know what is going on, but he cannot change things now.
“He has to wait, so just focus on scoring goals. That’s it.”
Benitez wanted United to activate Rondon’s £16.5million release clause at West Bromwich Albion last summer.
The club’s hierarchy, however, baulked at the fee – and Rondon’s age.
Benitez eventually had to agree to farm out Dwight Gayle to West Brom in order to secure Rondon on a season-long deal.
Rondon, handed the No 9 jersey by Benitez, quickly won over Newcastle fans.
And the powerful player has been outstanding alongside Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez over the past seven weeks.
“We knew him before,” said Benitez.
“We knew he could be fine for the way we wanted to play. I was pleased with him, and I have been talking to him about what he’s thinking.
“He’s clear on wanting to score goals.
“I have talked with him about football, I asked him about what was going on.
“We had the same message – it’s to carry on scoring goals.
“If he scores goal, it will be easier for him. It’s better for him not to think about the future, and just to score goals.”
Rondon, keen to stay at the club, has echoed Benitez’s thoughts.
“The gaffer brought me here to help the team and score goals,” said Rondon.
“At the moment I have 10 goals in all competitions and I have to carry on, keep scoring.”
Rondon, however, is refusing to set himself a goal target for the rest of the season.
“I never say that (a target), just try to help the team,” he said.
“That’s the main point for me. I try to hold the ball, help my team-mates, and after, score more goals.
“At the moment I’m doing really well. I have to keep going.”