There were few Newcastle supporters who expected anything less than a flop when the club signed Salomon Rondon on loan this summer.
The Venezuelan’s lack of goals had played its part in West Brom’s relegation last season, and he was seen as something of a cut-price option for Rafa Benitez.
The forward’s slow start to life on Tyneside had also looked like a worrying sign of what was to come.
He featured just five times in Newcastle’s opening ten matches and only completed more than 45 minutes in two of them.
Rondon always seemed to be injured when Newcastle needed him most, and devoid of fitness when he did play.
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But he has shown remarkable progress in the last few months.
He has scored or assisted in all of his last three matches and is becoming a key player in the side.
Rondon is still not the versatile striker Newcastle need, but he is undoubtedly defying all expectations this season.
But for how long can his current form last?
Rondon’s inconsistent form
Salomon Rondon has a history of only performing for short spells in the Premier League.
In his previous three seasons in the PL, he hit nine, eight and seven goal totals for the season.
But the majority of these goals seemed to come from just small periods of consistency.
The striker has currently scored four goals and assisted one goal in his last six games.
If he was to continue this form, he’d easily surpass his season record by February.
But the forward is merely repeating a persistent feat of his.
Last season, Rondon scored or assisted in four consecutive games for West Brom during April.
It came out of nowhere during a disappointing season in which he’d averaged just one goal every six games.
Similarly, in December 2016, he hit four goals in five games, including a hat-trick against Swansea. But the forward somehow failed to score again for 20 consecutive matches that season.
There’s fears it could be a similar story at Newcastle, but Rondon will be confident he can change history.
Rondon’s best season yet?
Rondon’s first few matches for Newcastle were blighted by poor fitness, and the past few months have been his first real run in the side.
He played his first 90 minutes in November against Watford, and has played at least 70 minutes in the six matches since.
In those seven matches, the forward has been involved in five of Newcastle’s eight goals.
What’s also interesting about his previous seasons, is that Rondon was never particularly injury prone.
Rondon missed five matches this season due to fitness issues, yet in three seasons with West Brom he only missed six matches.
He had no real excuses for his long spells without scoring, but for Newcastle he is yet to have a barren spell while fully fit.
Perhaps that’s evidence to suggest Rondon can succeed at Newcastle where he could not for The Albion.
If the Venezuelan can continue to play week in week out for Newcastle, he may have his best season yet.