Salomon Rondon says he already feels at home at Newcastle United – and he’s desperate to earn a permanent move to the club.
Rondon joined from West Bromwich Albion earlier this month in a loan swap deal which saw Dwight Gayle head to The Hawthorns.
And the striker struck the crossbar after coming on for his debut in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at St James’s Park.
“It was really, really good,” said Rondon. “The welcome from the supporters inside the stadium was for me amazing and for my family.
“It was incredible for all of us. Everyone has been speaking to us about Newcastle, and we really appreciate the welcome we have received here.
“To have a welcome like that is important, and it already feels like home.”
Rondon could make his full Premier League debut in tomorrow’s game against Cardiff City, though he’s playing catch-up with his fitness, having only made one pre-season appearance for West Brom.
“I try to train really hard and do my best, but for Cardiff, the decision is for the gaffer so I will have to wait,” said the Venezuela international.
United manager Rafa Benitez identified Rondon as a target months ago, but the club’s hierarchy were unwilling to pay his £16.5million release clause.
In the end, the club paid a £2million loan fee for Rondon, who’s under contract at West Brom until 2020 after the Championship club took up an option of another year.
In my career, I have played in different leagues with different players, and I know this is the biggest move of my career. That’s why I want to stay here permanently.Salomon Rondon
Rondon said: “Negotiations were difficult. I was just waiting. When I gave the answer that I wanted to come here, I was expecting it to happen, but it was difficult.”
Asked if he wanted the move to be made permanent next summer, Rondon said: “Yes, that’s my personal target.
“And the only way to do that, of course, is to score goals and train really, really hard to hold on to my place.
“I will try my best. I have just come here to do my best for the team, to score goals and stay here permanently.
“I know all about the amazing South American players who have been here – (Nolberto) Solano, Jonas Gutierrez – and how really well they did here.
“In my career, I have played in different leagues with different players, and I know this is the biggest move of my career. That’s why I want to stay here permanently.”
Rondon was keen to stay in the Premier League following West Brom’s relegation last season.
“The situation when West Brom went down was difficult, and I’m just really grateful to be back in the Premier League again.
“It was a dream to come to the Premier League, and that was a beautiful moment for me as a footballer, but the way last season went was very tough.”
Rondon took the No 9 shirt previously worn by Gayle.
And the Caracas-born player knows all about the history of the iconic jersey.
“I like the pressure,” said Rondon. “I know all about the No 9. When I signed the contract here, there was a big picture of all the top scorers – Alan Shearer at the top with 206. So the pressure is big – it’s amazing to score 206 goals. But I want to make the fans proud by wearing this shirt, like Alan Shearer did.”
Asked about the pressures that come with leading the line at United, Rondon added: “I like the pressure. The pressure’s always everywhere. You have to manage the situation. If you have confidence in yourself, it doesn’t matter.”
Rondon, as soon as he became aware of United’s interest, was keen to play for Benitez.
“I remember the first call from Rafa,” said Rondon. “I obviously know a lot about Rafa in the football world. It’s a pleasure to work with him, to see his tactics, his ideas.”