James Rodríguez joins Everton

Everton Football Club signs Colombian golden boy James Rodríguez after reaching a deal with Real Madrid.

Everton Football Club has today announced the signing of James Rodríguez on a two-year deal with the option of a third year, after agreeing an undisclosed fee with Real Madrid. The 29-year-old becomes Everton’s second Colombian signing, joining towering centre half Yerry Mina, who joined the club in 2018.

James had been linked with a move to Goodison Park ever since Carlo Ancelotti became their manager just before Christmas last year. The Italian first recruited James to Real Madrid from AS Monaco in 2014, on the back of his breakout World Cup performance. He then took him to Bayern Munich on loan in 2017, after the playmaker had fallen out of favour with current Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, then in his first managerial stint at the club.

Born in Cúcuta and raised in Ibagué, James’ talent quickly stood out. He joined Envigado, and made his debut in the league for them at 14 years old. He joined Banfield in Argentina where he became the youngest debutant and goalscorer of the club. He spent only two years in Argentina before FC Porto signed him in 2010 for his first European challenge. James had no trouble making it into the first team. When manager Pékerman took the helm of the national team in 2012, he quickly made James one of his key players.

James Rodríguez in his best days, at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
James Rodríguez in his best days, at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Photo: FCF Colombia

The Colombian didn’t disappoint and when Falcao had to miss out on the 2014 World Cup because of his ACL, James stepped up. He pulled the team forward and took the golden boot along the way, punctuated with the goal of the World Cup – a spectacular volley into the top corner against Uruguay. After two successful seasons in the Spanish capital, the second culminating in a Champions League title, stories of indiscipline and a party lifestyle started coming out. His next season in Spain was irregular and a loan spell at Bayern Munich didn’t improve his form. After only eight appearances this year with the Spanish champions, transfer rumours became more persistent than ever. In the end it was his former manager Ancelotti, the manager he had most excelled under, who persuaded him to join Everton. 

No number 10 role

It will be interesting to see how James fits into Everton’s system this season, as Ancelotti has almost exclusively used a 4-4-2 set-up since he took over at Everton, meaning no ‘number 10’ role that Rodríguez likes to be utilised in. Ancelotti played him mostly as an inside forward on the right wing during their time together at Real Madrid, then gave him time on both wings and also slightly deeper and more central at Bayern. The former could be an option for Everton, as their current right wing options are the inconsistent and over-30 Theo Walcott, and academy product Anthony Gordon, who shows exciting potential, but isn’t ready to start most matches this early on in his career. As for being deployed in a deeper, more central role, that’s beginning to look unlikely as Everton unveiled Brazilian ball-winner Allan at Finch Farm on Saturday, and are also expected to announce the signing Watford box-to-box midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré later today. 

Colombian football to restart on September 8

Wherever Ancelotti ends up using the left-footed playmaker, he can pretty much be assured a starting spot somewhere between defence and the front two of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin every week, just as long as he stays healthy, which has admittedly been an issue for him over the last few years.

This signing represents a huge step forward for Everton in terms of ambition and the goal of getting into Europe as soon as possible – James is arguably the highest profile star the club has recruited since possibly Gary Lineker back in 1985, the season before they last won the league. The team struggled mightily in midfield last season and bringing in two, possibly three first team reinforcements to support their young forward line is a clear indication that the higher ups are willing to back their world class manager.

The Toffees are planning to move into a brand new, state of the art stadium at Bramley Moore Dock in 2022, which should bring in even more money and further enhance their international reputation. It is likely today’s signing will also lead to a huge bump in shirt sales, especially here in Colombia. Everton’s crosstown rivals Liverpool have suddenly become the fashionable English team for Colombians to support over the last couple of years, so it will be interesting to see how many of them switch allegiances across Stanley Park this season.

As for James Rodríguez, this move signals an ambition to play football and prove himself in arguably the world’s toughest league, rather than be content to sit on Zidane’s bench at the Estadio Bernabeu for more money.

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