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Why Arsenal and Chelsea see it as the ideal time to bid for Jose Salomon Rondon

All roads lead to England for Malaga sensation Jose Salomon Rondon.

Influenced by a Manchester United legend and represented by the father of a Chelsea star, the Premier League just has to be the next destination for the 22 year-old Venezuelan.

Rondon has been watched extensively by Arsenal chief scout Steve Rowley in the past six months and Malaga media sources say an offer has already been tabled. Chelsea have also been in contact with his camp since the weekend.

At the Champions League qualifiers, Rondon worked closely with Ruud van Nistelrooy, who took the 6ft 1in striker under his wing during their season together in Spain. The youngster was taken aback by the former United and Real Madrid striker's decision to announce his retirement last month.

"I was surprised," recalled Rondon. "I was sure he would play on. I really believed he wanted to continue.

"I am proud and very happy to have worked and learned from him. You can't help but learn from a player of such status."

Rondon admits he could follow Van Nistelrooy out of Malaga, despite the promise of a Champions League campaign next season. The striker has less than two years to run on his current deal and has seen negotiations over an extension suddenly stall.

"There was talk at the beginning of the season, but nothing has been discussed since," revealed Rondon last week.

"Hopefully, if I'm still here, the problem has been resolved and if not, well, it has been a pleasure ...

"I can't tell you what will happen. Football takes many turns, you just don't know what will happen next."

Rondon is represented by Juan Mata Snr, the father of Chelsea's Champions League winner Juan Mata, who has been demanding Malaga raise his client's wages to €2 million-a-year - which so far has fell on deaf ears.

Now, Malaga Hoy says Arsenal have indicated a willingness to pay €18 million for Rondon, whose current deal carries a €20 million buyout clause.

While under no pressure to sell thanks to the spending power of owner Sheikh Al-Thani, Malaga's board are nervous about UEFA's Financial Fair Play. Cashing in on Rondon would give them some breathing space in terms of the outside revenue sources UEFA will demand from clubs competing in their competitions from next year.

Those close to the club say the board is split. Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini and his staff feel Rondon is on the brink of 'exploding', but directors inside the boardroom are not so sure and feel selling a player signed for €3.5 million from Las Palmas is good business.

Despite the doubters inside the club, Rondon is adamant his all-round game has improved over the last 12 months: "In the past I was just a goal scorer. But now I play more football. My development has definitely progressed.

"I feel I've improved my heading and my hold up play."

Rondon enjoys star status in Venezuela and is proud of the profile he gives his country playing in Europe.

"People say I have a high profile in South America. A lot of people talk about me - I just hope its all good! As a young person, I learned to listen and take advice. Hopefully when I come home, people see I haven't changed. Its important to always be respectful."

That Arsenal and Chelsea are now stepping up their pursuit is no coincidence. Rondon is in the process of gaining a European passport and expects his Spanish papers next year.

Antonio Fernandez, the Malaga sporting director, returned to Spain last week after a South American scouting trip and is due to enter talks with Mata Snr in the coming days. A new contract will be on the agenda, as will the interest of Arsenal and Chelsea.

Fernandez knows its now time to make a decision on his Venezuelan striker.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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