Everton deadline-day signing Salomon Rondon is a manager’s “dream” and Evertonians will be smitten with a player who “has everything”.
That is according to Tony Pulis, the manager who brought Rondon to the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion six years ago.
Rondon scored 28 goals in three seasons at West Brom before joining Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United, where the Venezuelan directly contributed to 18 goals – scoring 11 – in 32 Premier League appearances.
As he weighed up a move for Rondon in 2015, Pulis called the player’s former Malaga boss, Manuel Pellegrini, who provided a glittering testimonial.
And Benitez, in turn, found Pulis equally effusive when he made contact prior to completing the player’s signing for Newcastle.
“I told Rafa, ‘You couldn’t ask for a better boy on and off the pitch’,” Pulis told evertonfc.com.
“Anything you ask from him, he will do his damnedest.
“The supporters will love him because of his effort and commitment.
“He is a robust, old-fashioned number nine and excellent in the air.
“He has everything.
“Everton is a traditional, proper club and they expect their players to turn up every week and physically give everything they have for the cause and for the shirt.
“Salomon will do that.
"There will be no ifs, buts or maybes.
“Every time he pulls on that shirt, the supporters will get everything Salomon can give them.
“Rafa has worked with him twice and knows him back to front.
“He wouldn’t sign him a third time if there was any doubt about his ability or temperament or character.
“Salomon is an absolute dream of a lad to work with and a lovely person.
“And the way Rafa sets up his team, Salomon will be a key figure in that squad.”
Rondon spearheaded a Malaga team led by Pellegrini, the ex-Manchester City manager, to a top-four La Liga finish in 2012.
Rubin Kazan duly exploited Malaga's financial circumstances to take the player to Russia, where he switched to Zenit Saint Petersburg after 18 months.
Rondon won the domestic title with Zenit in 2014/15, then joined West Brom, where Pulis was preparing for his first full season in charge.
“I’d watched Salomon and rang Manuel Pellegrini to speak about him," said Pulis.
"Manuel gave him a tremendous recommendation, in respect of his commitment.
“He thought there were areas of his game he would improve and that he would be absolutely ideal for the Premier League.
“And he was fabulous for us.
“In my final full season at the club [2016/17] we finished top-10 and a lot of it was down to the players up front.
“Nacer Chadli, Chris Brunt and Matt Phillips all performed well.
“But Salomon was excellent. He scored a hat-trick of headers in one game [against Swansea City in December 2016, the second Premier League player to achieve the feat after Duncan Ferguson for Everton in December 1997].
“He was the ideal person for us to play off and is a really good starting point for everything you want to do in and out of possession.
“Salomon was massive in all our defensive work because of his commitment to working for the team.
“Everton have got a really honest, hard-working person who will give everything, and I mean everything, for his teammates, in every game he plays.
“He can score goals but is so unselfish and has a top attitude. He’s a lovely, lovely person from a lovely family.”
Everton manager Benitez took Rondon to Dalian Professional in China following the pair’s season at Newcastle.
Rondon netted 14 times in 28 appearances for the Asian club and added four goals on loan at CSKA Moscow in the second half of last season.
And when Everton needed a striker following Moise Kean’s exit for Juventus, Benitez swooped for a player who is unequivocally a round peg in a round hole in the Spaniard’s enterprising team.
“Rafa is a tremendous coach and will set up his team properly and in a way that he will win – and within that group and team, Salomon will be able to do the job Rafa wants from a number nine,” said Pulis.
“He is non-stop, he can gather the ball in and have people playing off him.
“He’ll do the unglamorous work, he’ll chase and put people under pressure.
“We were excellent on set plays with Salomon and Rafa works hard on those.
"Salomon will run-in behind and get on the end of crosses – he’ll do whatever you ask from him.”