West Brom boss Tony Pulis has been lathering praise on new striker Salomon Rondon ahead of his side’s meeting with Everton, despite the Venezuelan’s lack of goals so far.
Just once has the Baggies’ record signing found the net in six outings so far, but this hasn’t knocked the Welsh coaches’ confidence in the hulking frontman.
“Salomon has been fantastic – and in every game he has played, he could have scored a goal or two. He has been desperately unfortunate not to get more.
“He has all the attributes of a top striker – he’s quick, he can get down the sides of teams, he’s good at holding the ball up and he’s decent in the air.”
The absence of any qualities denoting ‘shot accuracy’ should be cause for alarm, but perhaps more worrying for West Brom fans is the characteristics Pulis lists, and nature of his praise, bears striking similarities with those frequently attributed to a much maligned forward currently plying his trade at Bolton.
Emile Heskey is who, by the sounds of his manager’s comments, Rondon most closely resembles.
Adored by coaches and teammates in his prime, the former Leicester, Liverpool and England target man was chided throughout his career by supporters constantly underwhelmed by his lack of flair and goals alike.
Physically, though, it’s fair to say he exemplified all of the qualities Pulis describes as belonging to Rondon, while spurning opportunities, as the Venezuelan evidently has so far, is believed to be another area in which Heskey excels.
The West Brom star’s goal record beyond English shores is markedly better than what his veteran counterpart was used to in his prime (he scored 28 in 57 games for former club Zenit), but Pulis’ preference to have a powerful target man lead the lines of teams that prioritise keeping clean sheets over creating chances mean the South American striker will find goals harder to come by at the Hawthorns than anywhere else previously in his career.
Crystal Palace’s top league scorer in the solitary season the Welshman held the reigns was Jason Puncheon, who bagged seven, while no player bested Ricardo Fuller’s tally of 11 in terms of top-tier strikes registered in a single campaign during his time at Stoke.
Such figures suggest more frustration awaits Rondon, but just like Heskey, his physical prowess means he prove an invaluable asset for his boss.
He is 5/1 to score the first of the game when West Brom entertain Everton next.