NEWCASTLE UNITED will have to put together a package worth £16m if they want to sign Salomon Rondon on a permanent basis this summer.

West Bromwich Albion will look to sell Rondon permanently once his current loan deal at St James’ Park comes to an end, but with a number of clubs having expressed an interest in the 29-year-old in the last 12 months, the Baggies are determined to strike a hard bargain.

West Brom officials rejected Newcastle’s attempts to set a summer price for Rondon when they held discussions over Jacob Murphy’s loan move to the Hawthorns in January because they hope to spark a bidding war for the Venezuela international at the end of the current campaign.

Having triggered an automatic 12-month extension to Rondon’s contract, the West Brom hierarchy will refuse to lower their asking price from the £16m that would have enabled an interested party to buy the striker last summer.

They are willing to include Dwight Gayle as part of a potential deal with Newcastle, but do not value the forward, who is currently on a season-long loan at the Hawthorns, as highly as Rondon.

If Gayle can be persuaded to make a permanent switch to the Midlands, the Magpies will have to pay around £6m to make up the shortfall between the two players’ price tags.

West Brom’s stance reflects their assertion that Rondon’s stock has risen as a result of his loan move to St James’ Park. He has scored seven goals in all competitions, and has been praised for the effective way in which he has led the Newcastle line, with at least one of the Magpies’ Premier League rivals understood to have looked into the possibility of signing him in January.

That proved impossible as his current loan deal does not feature a recall clause, but it highlights the potential difficulties facing Newcastle if they look to secure a permanent deal in the summer.

Rondon’s relationship with Rafael Benitez could prove a factor in their favour, although with the manager’s long-term future still shrouded in doubt, it is far from a given that Benitez will be dictating transfer policy once his current contract comes to an end.

Rondon has stated publicly that he would like to join Newcastle on a full-time basis, but given that he will turn 30 in September, his age could prove a major stumbling block.

Mike Ashley did not want to offer Rondon a long-term contract last summer because he was worried about the lack of any sell-on value at the end of a prospective deal, and his stance is unlikely to have shifted significantly in the last six months.

Ashley has long been resistant to signing players in their 30s, especially when they command an eight-figure price tag and wage demands that would instantly make them one of the highest-paid players at the club.

Signing Rondon would be less of a risk in terms of his immediate impact on the first team as he has proved to be a valuable asset this season, but his age means Ashley would almost certainly only offer a one or two-year contract at best. If alternative offers arrive from elsewhere, Rondon may conclude he cannot justify remaining in the North-East.

Newcastle’s transfer plans are likely to remain in a state of flux until Benitez makes a firm decision on his future, but the club’s recent record signing, Miguel Almiron, is confident he can handle the rough-and-tumble of life in the Premier League and justify his £20.7m price tag.

“Football’s not just about skill and ability,” said Almiron. “Especially in this league, when the tempo is so high, it’s about working hard and to succeed, you’ve got to put a real shift in.

“I want to work hard to help my team-mates and bring something to the team.”