Salomon Rondon insists he is ready for action “whenever the coach needs me” in advance of a potential Everton debut against Burnley on Monday.
Striker Rondon completed a move to Everton at the eleventh hour of last month’s transfer deadline day.
The Venezuelan spoke exclusively to Everton’s matchday programme for the Burnley clash and disclosed his excitement at joining “a great club with a world-class manager”
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Rondon last played competitively on 8 May but arrived on Merseyside in tremendous physical shape.
The player’s condition would have come as no surprise to Rafael Benitez, who is linking up with former Malaga and Zenit Saint Petersburg forward Rondon for a third time.
Rondon adopted the nickname 'Gladiator' in recognition of a never-say-die personality – which the South American traces back to his formative years trying to carve out a football career.
“My strengths were never giving up and always looking to outdo myself,” said Rondon.
“That’s why I’ve always trained hard, right from a young age.
“I always tried to be different from the rest, to have my own style and stand out for my respect and effort.
“Gladiator is something I came up with myself. It’s something you can apply to all areas of life.
“It is an attitude and way of understanding life. It is about never giving up and battling on.
“I identify myself with fighting until the referee blows the final whistle.
“I’m currently in very good shape and have trained hard to come here and be as fit as possible.
“I’m ready to help the coach with whatever he needs from me and whenever he needs me.”
Rondon is rapidly settling in his new city, a process expedited by the player’s wife and three children joining him in England.
He followed Everton boss Benitez to Dalian Professional in China after a season together at Newcastle United in 2018/19.
Rondon was successful on the field with Dalian – scoring at a rate of one goal every two games – but spent months of the 2020 Chinese Super League season isolated in a hotel with teammates and rival club sides.
Rondon is quick to point out his situation was painless in the broader context of a global pandemic – but, understandably, it represented a mental slog.
“My family means everything to me, so, as you’d expect, I struggle when I’m far away from my wife and children,” said Rondon.
“I don’t want to sound selfish, because I know many people had a dreadful time with the pandemic.
“But the loneliness in China was made worse because I didn’t have my family.
“Despite that, I gave my all and played a big role in the team’s results. I channelled all my efforts into helping on the pitch.
“We’ve been together as a family in Liverpool right from day one.
“They are here with me for this new chapter with Everton and we are all really excited about this adventure at this club, in the Premier League and in this city.
“We’re really pleased with the welcome we’ve had and I want to thank the Club and fans for that.
“They’ve been really kind and shown a lot of warmth towards us since my signing was announced.
“We also really love to visit and get to know the city we are in and become part of it.
“That is why we’re really looking forward to discovering Liverpool and getting to know the locals.”
Rondon, who spent the second half of 2020/21 on loan with CSKA Moscow in Russia, learned about the potential for an Everton move in the closing days of August.
He passed a medical with flying colours, then had to sit tight and hope Everton and Dalian could reach an agreement.
In terms of weighing up the transfer himself, the 31-year-old Rondon insists there was nothing to think about when Everton and Benitez declared their interest.
“I already knew all about Everton, the stadium and the amazing atmosphere that the fans create for every game at Goodison Park,” added Rondon.
“When the manager spoke to me about his project, I didn’t think twice.
“I know I’ve joined a great club with a world-class coach who’s always helped me produce my best.
“I’m excited to be an Everton player and really looking forward to playing for the Club.”
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