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James Rodríguez 19

James Rodriguez

Six months into his tenure as Everton manager, Carlo Ancelotti was under no illusions about the size of the task he had inherited from Marco Silva in December 2019. Having witnessed his team limp to a 12th-place finish, hampered by a non-existent midfield, the Italian urged Director of Football, Marcel Brands, to put his model of buying younger players on pause in order to overhaul the midfield with players capable of making an immediate impact in 2020-21.

Ancelotti targeted two of his trusted former players, drafting in Allan in early September 2020 and following him up swiftly with James Rodriguez, the Colombian superstar with whom he had worked at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich having made him the fourth-most expensive player in world football in 2014 when he signed him from Monaco for £63m.

Ancelotti is believed to have been instrumental in persuading James to join him at Goodison Park, vouching for him personally and making a number of phone calls to him to describe the project he is working on with the Toffees.

Rodríguez signed a two-year contract (Marca in Spain reported that he halved his salary to €4.5m a year, around £76,000 a week, to make the move happen but Colombian journalist Pipe Sierra claimed his wages would be closer to £120,000 a week) and chose the Number 19 jersey, with the club retaining the option of a third year that would be triggered at a pre-determined number of appearances. The fee was initially reported to be in the region of £22m but it later emerged that Everton and Real Madrid had signed a confidentiality agreement over the exact terms, with the consensus being that the Blues had paid either a portion or all of the Colombian's remaining £9m in wages in what was otherwise a free transfer.

“I am really, really happy to be at this great club, a club with so much history, and here with a manager who knows me really well,” he told “I'm looking forward to achieving great things here — and winning things, which is what everyone's aim is. I've come here to try to improve, to get better. I've also come here to help the team to win, to play good football — entertaining football.

“I'm convinced, with Carlo and his technical staff, we can achieve big things and one of the big reasons [I signed] was the presence of Carlo Ancelotti. I have enjoyed some great times with him previously at two different clubs. That was a massive reason to come here."

Born in Cúcuta in Colombia's northeastern department of Norte de Santander and named after James Bond, Rodríguez began his career with second-tier Envigado, making his professional debut at just 14 years of age, before moving to Banfield in Argentina.

Porto brought him to Europe in 2010 (apparently only after Everton, under David Moyes, elected not to pursue a move for him on the grounds that he wouldn't have qualified for a work permit) and he spent three trophy-laden seasons there before moving to Monaco ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

It was on the big stage in Brazil that James announced himself to the world, driving his country to the quarter-finals in their first appearance in the World Cup Finals for 16 years, and claiming the Golden Boot with six goals, one of them a stunning, career-defining chest-and-volley against Uruguay in the Round of 16 from outside the box.

That earned him his big-money move to Madrid but while he had a “banner” year in his first season at the Bernabeu under Ancelotti, finishing the campaign as the Galacticos' player of the season, his form gradually ebbed away after the Italian left until the pair were reunited at the Allianz Arena in 2017.

James acquitted himself well in Germany in a two-year loan spell that was, like his 2018 World Cup campaign, disrupted to a degree by injury, not least when he ruptured a knee ligament in his second season in Germany. He played 28 times that season and scored seven goals but it wasn't enough to persuade Bayern, now shifting focus to longer-term building under new boss Niko Kovac, to take up the option of signing him permanently.

He returned to Madrid but found once again found it difficult to establish himself in a successful, trophy-winning team and because of injury and competition for places, he would make just one appearance in La Liga between November 2019 and the end of the protracted season in July.

The attacking midfielder had one year remaining on his contract at the Bernabeu and, with Madrid looking to lighten up their wage bill, he was made available for transfer this summer and Everton swooped to wrap up his signing a week before the start of the new Premier League season.

He had an immediate and stunning effect on the way Everton were playing, his fabulous cross-field passing to Lucas Digne becoming a particular speciality that would allow the Frenchman to set up an number of excellent goals as Everton romped to the top of the early-season Premier League table.

Their stay at the top, however, was cut short by hated rivals Liverpool and a particularly nasty piece of football from Virgil van Dijk inside the first 2 minutes of the Goodison derby that went unpunished. James tried to run off the groin injury but it had clearly affected him and he would not be effective as he struggled for the next 2 months, missing most of the busy December games.

As the season wore on, his magnificent ball play would be seen less and less as he missed more and more games through injury, and as Premier League players targeted him with unwelcome physicality that had the desired effect of knocking back the wonderful expansive side of his football personality.

And the nature of his injury was not clearly described by Carlo Ancelotti, who seemed a little frustrated by the frequent enquiries about the Colombian magician's absence. Frustrated also were some Everton fans, who took at face value the claims that James didn't like the rough stuff and had no stomach for the games when things were not going his way. His physical inability to run, tackle and help out in defence were also met with disdain.

Yet his primary contibution was in terms of creating and scoring goals, which he did with superb precision and skill unequaled in an Everton shirt for many a long year. Most Evertonians were more than happy to accept his acknowledged limitations in exchange for these priceless moments of sheer brilliance.

But there's no hiding from the fact that him missing 9 of the last 14 games through a succesion of 'small" injury problems and 'fatigue', including crying off in the warm-up against Aston Villa and clearly asking to be subbed against Man Utd, then posting selfies of him jumping on a plane back home to Colombia before Everton's dismal season denoument at Manchester City, sent all the wrong messages about his desire and committment to the Everton cause.   

This was all brought to the fore when the Colombian FA excluded him from the national squad for the upcoming Copa America tournament, to the massive and unfettered distress of the player when they declared that he was not fit enough. 


Squad number 19
Position Attacking midfield
Nationality Colombian
Born Cúcuta, Col.
Date of birth 12 July 1991
Height 5' 11" (1.80 m)
Joined 7 September 2020
Joined from Real Madrid
Signed under Carlo Ancelotti
Transfer fee Undisclosed (up to £9m)
Contract duration 2 years (option for 3)
Contract expires June 2022
Full debut v Tottenham (A)
13 September 2020
Previous Clubs Envigado
Real Madrid
Bayern Munich (loan)
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Everton Career

Season Squad Number League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2020-21 19 21 (2) 6 3 (0) 0 24 (2) 6
  Totals 21 (2) 6 3 (0) 0 24 (2) 6

Previous Career

Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2017-19 Bayern Munich (loan) 49(18) 15
2013-14 Real Madrid 94(32) 37
2012-13 Monaco 32(6) 10
2010-12 Porto 78(30 32


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