Scout Report: James Rodriguez

Friday, 4 September, 2020 35comments  |  Jump to last
In his second deep-dive of the week, Michael Greenall assesses what James Rodriguez could bring to Everton if, as is expected, he signs from Real Madrid.

» Read the full article at Toffee Analysis


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Santa Krsh
1 Posted 04/09/2020 at 07:23:22
A very nice deep and insightful article on Rodriguez. Couple of things kept springing to my mind when I was reading the analysis.

First, regarding the injuries which has hampered Rodriguez's career and which has not been highlighted as much as our shambolic midfield, Goalie, our overpaid underachieving stars etc. etc.

Why do we have so many players who have recurring or non-serious injury, but they have to sit out of some games which results in lack of rhythm or in some cases, affects the overall team balance.

To my mind, except Pickford and to an extent Sigurdsson & Calvert-Lewin, we have had nagging issues with each and every one of them. I exclude the Gomes and Keane kind of serious one-off incident. Why do we get it? is it due to our training regime? Or a general lack of fitness among our stars?

When we look at other teams like Liverpool, Wolves, Leicester City, Sheffield Utd or even our own during Bobby's first season, they hardly change their elevens which improves the overall cohesion within the team and masks any weakness in any of their players.

Therefore, instead of screaming at Gylfi for being a passenger in central midfield, I would actually look at the amount of players he had to play with around him due to both injuries and form issues and how would someone get any sort of rhythm if there is Walcott to your right one day, Iwobi next, Bernard the game after?

So, which brings to the point that Gylfi could have actually gone on to become a very good central midfielder if we had a stable XI. I know, this point is debatable but my larger issue is with regard to these nagging injuries which have affected our balance. I would go as far to begin with McCarthy's injury in Martinez's second season which probably started our bad luck with injuries from which we are yet to recover.

So we might have to analyse our record of injuries and how we can come out of it and have a stable XI for the majority of the season. This will go a long way in determining where we want to be and whether we will be able to achieve our objective of a stable Top 6 side challenging for cups.

The second issue, and somewhat related to the one above, is related to a line in the article which states that Rodriguez has suffered from some of the fitness issues on his eagerness to track back and win possession when clearly he was not fully fit.

Which takes me to my next question that, when we have invested so much on him and probably hope to get some 30 games in the next couple of seasons, I really feel a defensive-minded schemer is a must for our shopping list in order to free him from any kind of major defensive responsibilities and restrict his movement in and around the final third, where we all know how devastating he can be.

I know Gbamin was bought to do this very job but we don't know what type of player he will be once he recovers and can we fully trust him to do the job?

So, instead of spending £12 Million odd on a 28- or 29-year-old right-back, I would look to bring some like Torriera or Guendouzi from Arsenal on loan who could do a Casemiro or Fabinho kind of job of winning the ball and keep it moving.

I know we need depth at right-back, but I do feel Walcott can do a job like Victor Moses did at Chelsea as a right-wingback and this would shift Coleman to the right side of a 3 man defense. This formation was initially set up by Carlo (with Sidibé as a right-wingback) in his first couple of matches we won under him and then discarded.

This would prolong Coleman's career as he is a very good defender and would also improve the team since Walcott is indeed one of our best crossers and also good at tracking back.

Finally, while reading about how Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin would be licking their lips at the amount of chances they are going to get with Rodriguez in the team, I tend to wonder whether Calvert-Lewin is actually good enough to put those away?

I know this is controversial, but when you take off your blue-tinted glasses, you could actually count on some serious chances which he should have scored if he had controlled it better or if his body position was better. Straight away 3 chances come to mind:

One, was against Chelsea away, one-on-one vs the goalkeeper while we were 0-1 down, when he scuffed it just wide.

Second, was in our game against Man City away, 1-2 down, Gylfi played a beautiful ball over the top, we were 3 on 1, with Richarlison screaming for the ball to be passed across the goal, only for Calvert-Lewin to miscontrol the pass and everything came to nought.

Third and the most important one, his second goal vs Newcastle away, played across by Richarlison for a simple tap-in, but Calvert-Lewin slipped and bundled it over the line with great difficulty.

All of the above suggest that, like how question marks are being raised now against Gabriel Jesus, there is a hard worker who tracks, harasses the defenders and is good at running the channels... but is he a complete striker?

So do we need another striker, as we see Bertrand Traore and Oduard being mentioned as rumours, is another big question which will determine whether Rodriguez is a success here.

Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 04/09/2020 at 07:58:35
It's a fascinating analysis, and one that matches up pretty well with my own understanding of the player from watching him (irregularly) over the past 8 years or so, starting from when he debuted for Colombia.

I think it raises three important points:

1. It will take James longer than the usual newcomer to blend in with his teammates, and for them to get used to him. James demolishes defenses with cutting passes, not dribbles, and his mates will have to get used to running in behind for him, which...

2. ... helps clarify my hunch that, if the three newcomers all assume starting jobs in midfield, the fourth starter will be Anthony Gordon, the most willing and pacy midfield runner we currently have.

3. It also clarifies why Carlo apparently feels we need a new right-back. James is an eager ball-chaser defensively but does not track opposing midfielders well.

This will be fun, folks.

Andrew Ellams
3 Posted 04/09/2020 at 08:20:55
Interesting point @2, Mike.

If you are correct with your Anthony Gordon call, then Gomes will surely become the odd man out. If that happens, I don't see him being happy warming the bench for a team not playing European football.

Danny Broderick
4 Posted 04/09/2020 at 09:18:31
I don't think we will be playing 4 in midfield, I think we will be playing 4-3-3. I don't see Gordon getting the same game time, he was fast-tracked because of the paucity of options we had in midfield. I see Gomes holding in midfield, flanked by Allan and Doucouré.

If Gordon does get a look-in, it will be as an impact sub in the wide forward positions. If he does well, he could work his way in, but I don't see him starting ahead of Richarlison and Rodriguez initially. He's definitely a good prospect though, I hope he gets game time in a balanced team doing well, unlike the chaotic last 2 seasons.

Rodriguez really is a wild card. Can he rediscover his form of old? Or has he lost his spark? Fingers crossed he settles in well and Carlo can get the best out of him again...

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
5 Posted 04/09/2020 at 09:25:51
Santa, I actually think Kean will be better suited than DCL to the new team. I think he is more natural as a striker/goal scorer than DCL. I would even be tempted to have the metaphorical bet that he scores more than DCL this year and is replaces him in the starting XI by the end of the season.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
6 Posted 04/09/2020 at 09:58:45
Having read the analysis, the name Andrej Kanchelskis comes to mind.
Dave Williams
7 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:00:05
This report, and the one on Allan is very insightful but fails to emphasise two very important points.

First, we are paying £20-25M for Allan and James which is not a fee you pay for the perfect player. We can't afford a fee for the perfect player but these two, when combined with Doucouré could just blend to be a real force. Of course there are potential pitfalls with them both – if there weren't we couldn't afford to buy them!

Second, and as I mentioned on another thread a few days ago, Carlo knows these two. With his man-management skills, he should be able to coax James back to his best, and he will probably task Allan with running the midfield. Carlo knows way better than any would-be journalist how to get the best out of these lads and whether they can give him what he needs. He has been very clever in getting Doucouré as he has the legs to really get around the midfield and put genuine energy into the team.

I think Carlo knows what he is doing and in buying a couple of older players he is effectively staking his reputation on them being a success. People should not underestimate the effect that Allan and Doucouré will have on the back four. No longer will teams slice through our midfield with ease and the back four will be so much better for it as attackers will either be stopped before they get to the back four or may be off-balance from a decent challenge which will then give the defence the chance to step in and nick the ball.

Likewise imagine how much better the attack will be when they get the ball given to them in a dangerous area rather than with three opponents circling them. Richarlison could have a cracking season which would double his value in the transfer market and Calvert-Lewin could finally do a Graeme Sharp and blossom into a top centre forward. Carlo will really get to work with James and I imagine he will respond to being the “main man” in the team.

Let's hope they all sign on!

Graham Lloyd
8 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:04:59
That's an excellent read! It will be interesting to see who ends up starting on the left side of our revamped midfield.
Justin Doone
9 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:15:52
Simply put, James has had no preseason and is injury prone. It's sound a little like, "he may be fit for Christmas".

This is why we should have loaned him for a season. We reduce the risk of a player who may struggle to cut it and help the financial implications.

There's no doubting his talent but will he stay fit, can he adapt to the Premier League, do we have the runners and movement ahead of him to create and finish the chances etc?

He's the right kind of player that we need. Top class, pace, energy, creator and he has generally scored a few goals too. I'm looking forward to watching him play.

Tommy Carter
10 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:20:49
Pickford
Coleman Keane or Holgate Mina Digne
Gomes Allan
Doucouré
James Richarlison
Calvert-Lewin

If all signings work out, then this is how I expect Ancelotti to play.

His teams at Milan and Napoli worked a very similar system.

Gomes will play from deep like Pirlo. Allan being Rino Gatusso and Doucouré being Seedorf.

For the Kaka free role, we will have James.

It's a classic Ancelotti system. Albeit with worse players.

Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:22:42
Well this deal: 3 years and paying £20M transfer fee, not sure what James's wages will be is different to the one that was suggested the other day: One year loan @ £5M and wages of just over £4M for the year.

The report has a one-liner: high risk = high reward, well I think considering his injury record over the last few years, that the risk is far too high so I'd swerve this deal.

It also said in the report that Rodríguez might not be the type of player Everton need at this time and Ancelotti might have to change his whole system to fit him in.

Brian Harrison
12 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:32:56
I am sure that Carlo is more aware than anybody over the fitness and long term durability of Rodriguez. I don't need a scouting report when Ancelotti says he is the man we need; he has managed him twice so nobody understands the player better than Carlo.

Instead of looking for negatives in the deal lets just for once look at the positives, on his day the player is world class and he always produced the goods for Carlo before so why suggest he won't do it again?

Allan another player he has managed before so in both these players he knows exactly what we are getting. I am sure he also realised that he needed 2 box to box players so has also brought in Doucouré, to enable Gomes to flourish as he did when Gana played alongside him.

I am really excited to see these players, and yes it will take a little bit of time for them all to settle in to their positions in the team, but good players quickly adapt. We certainly won't see teams strolling through our midfield as they did last season, and Doucouré's height will help in both boxes.

Barry Rathbone
13 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:35:21
If he was injury prone in Spain he won't last 5 mins trying to dance around the all in wrestling match that is English footie.
Trevor Peers
14 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:35:49
Can't imagine Sigurdsson being sold if James has such a bad injury record; bad news for all the Siggy protesters.
Danny Baily
15 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:42:15
Dave 11, I agree with your assessment. A risky one.

I saw a comment on here along the lines of Rodriguez adding some much needed stardust to proceedings at Everton, if a little faded. I think that stardust is faded for a good reason (injuries and a lack of pace) and we might be best to steer clear.

Having said that, Carlo has evidently identified him personally as a target and has a clear role in mind for him. Let's hope it works out.

Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:58:30
Brian (12), it's not being negative to question this signing, it's being realistic ”He's world class on his day” so are plenty of players, it's how often that day comes around that counts, and how often he is fit to play.

I'm an Evertonian so I want Rodríguez to be a raging success for Everton. Along with everyone else, it doesn't stop me from querying the sense of the deal.

Steve Shave
17 Posted 04/09/2020 at 11:17:30
An excellent piece. I'm excited by the prospect of a 4-3-3 approach this season, which could incorporate all three of our proposed new midfielders as well as Gomes. I like the idea that Doucoure and Allan could add the box to box "bite" we have craved all season which might also free up Gomes to be more expressive (unashamed Gomes fan here btw).

I would love us to experiment with this 4-3-3 with Kean and Calvert-Lewin fighting it out for the central berth and James starting on the right and looking to cut in on his left. This could potentially be more of a free role for him with diminished defensive responsibilities which might also allow him to drift in behind the front two, linking play with our progressive new midfield.

The analysis seems to intimate also that he is not shy to press from the front either. Just don't get injured!

Steve Shave
18 Posted 04/09/2020 at 11:19:14
Trevor #14,

I think Sigurdsson will be sold.

We have Gordon, Bernard, Walcott and Iwobi who can fill in when James is out. We may yet still sign a winger, with these 3 signings though I see less of a need and I wonder if instead funds will be spared for a new right-back and a back-up left-back.

Peter Mills
19 Posted 04/09/2020 at 11:21:08
I have some misgivings about the deal; we have a poor record over recent years signing older players with injury issues.

However, the idea of watching this guy has ignited my enthusiasm for the coming season.

Alex Gray
20 Posted 04/09/2020 at 11:35:07
It is a risk... but, if he finds form, he will be our best player by a mile. Allan and Doucouré give us a bit of steel and hopefully allow players like James to have a free role to thrive.
Andrew Clare
21 Posted 04/09/2020 at 11:41:07
Barry #13,

That's my worry. The English game is a wrestling match and our first game is against a very physical team who know how to ‘dish it out' although I am not sure if Rodriguez will feature too much in that game.

Ideally we should be buying young up and coming talent but I can understand why Ancelotti is taking the experienced player route as he wants us to get back into Europe quickly as then we will be able to attract better class younger players.

Allan and Doucouré will fit in quickly as they are a different type of player to Rodriguez and they are suited to the hurly-burly of the English game. Rodriguez has more subtle skills so is more likely to get hacked down like Richarlison is every week.

I hope Rodriguez is a great success and Carlo gets the best out of him because he is one helluva player when on form.

Brian Harrison
22 Posted 04/09/2020 at 11:55:04
Dave @16,

I think you and I are of a similar age, so we have been lucky to see some great players and great teams, but I can never remember so many Everton fans questioning every move the club makes.

We for the first time in our history we have hired a manager with one of the best CVs in world football, yet we had fans on here after a couple of weeks questioning if he was the right man to have in charge. I accept that it's every fan's right to question the decisions that clubs make, but at least lets wait to see how a player or manager get on after a period, not even before a manager has bought a player or a player has kicked a ball.

I have been critical of many players and managers over the decades, but not before giving them a chance to prove themselves. Let's not forget 2 of our recent managers came here after getting their clubs relegated from the Premier League and – if some had their way – if we had signed Eddie Howe, we would have had a hat-trick of them.

Tony Everan
23 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:03:08
A great assessment, it boils down to - can he stay fit?

Mourinho got his players rotating to snidely kick the shit out of Richarlison, him and other managers will do exactly the same with James Rodriguez. Referees let it go when it suits them and some clubs seem to get away with it more than others.

If he has the resilience or deftness to ride out these attacks on him and stay fit he will be a fantastic asset to us. I am really hoping he can stay fit because watching Everton will become an enjoyable once again instead of a kind of torture.

Dave Abrahams
24 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:04:42
Brian (22),

Yes, I can fully appreciate you getting a bit agitated at some of us fans moaning instead of getting excited at Everton signing, on paper, a talent like James, so, believe me, I know how you feel, you have to admit though Brian, that have had plenty to moan about, especially in the last few years.

I hope James turns my fears into cheers, by the way I think. Doucouré will be more than value for money.

Michael O'Malley
25 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:12:58
Brian @12,

I couldn't agree more, James is a fantastic player and I cant wait to see him in a blue shirt. The amount of money we've wasted on plodders, crabs and shithouses over the last few years the potential signing of James has got me so excited for the coming season, his crossing of the ball is fantastic and his passing and through balls will definitely improve our goals scored tally.

Brian Harrison
26 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:14:30
Dave @24,

Sorry Dave, I didn't mean to have a go at you, just me feeling a little grumpy this morning as I know you like me wish only the best for our club. Just wonder when you and I will feel safe enough to get back to Goodison Park to watch these players close up.

Andrew Ellams
27 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:20:23
Again, we finished 12th in the Premier League below Southampton, Leicester, Wolves and Sheffield United. We are not in the market for the sort of risk-free superstar (do they even exist) that the Champions League teams can pull out of the hat.
Jason Li
28 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:22:13
That's really great work, it's obvious to see a lot of time went into this report, so much appreciated.

At £80 million for the three (forward passing) midfielders, I guess we had to wait for good weather so that the media team can produce a lovely video presentation. And why not... as the world is watching us now.

Tactically, as James plays many positions very well, I think as Carlo has hinted, tactically positions will evolve and adapt during a match depending on the variables at the time in the game, and how he wants to manage the game.

Gordon will no doubt show a lot more next season, baring injury. His rate of improvement is on the upward curve, and again he can play many positions.

Great to have a savvy manager at last, who genuinely seems to enjoy being an Evertonian.

Brands – Mr Astute in 2020 so far, no real complaints.

All very exciting... has Moshiri's Hollywood dream arrived?

Dave Abrahams
29 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:23:21
Brian (26), no problems, I really did understand your point of view and there will be many more who feel the same way as you, and it can turn out for the best.

Yes, as Peter says (19), it has whetted a lot of supporters appetite to go to the game again and see these new signings, including me.

Hopefully we will get there before Christmas, but safety is the watchword with us fans getting “on a bit“. Best wishes, Brian... start oiling your rattle!!

Mike Gaynes
30 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:24:20
Alex #20, agreed. Heck, even if he doesn't regain his best form he'd be our best midfielder and second-best player after Richarlison.

As I posted on another thread, even with all the injuries and being off-form and in and out of lineups for Bayern and Real Madrid, over the past three seasons Rodriguez has been involved in a goal, either scoring or assisting, every 133 minutes on the pitch. That's impressive in any league.

Philip Bunting
31 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:33:19
Seen a few team selections although I would tend to stick with Sigurdsson behind a front 2, his best position rather than Gomes in a 4-3-1-2:

Pickford
Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Digne
Rodriguez Allan Doucouré
Sigurdsson
Calvert-Lewin Richarlison

Digne and Colman assisting 3 in mid, Siggy doing his natural and attack, score a few; Allan and Doucouré breaking things up with James our wild card to attack and create.

Fingers crossed...

Len Hawkins
32 Posted 04/09/2020 at 12:42:50
Mike @30,

I hope Carlo can get that statistic down from 133 minutes to 90.

There must be a Sam Goldwynism for statistics.

Dan Kemp
33 Posted 04/09/2020 at 13:05:57
I don't know about you but I have been slowly falling out of love with Everton. The main reason is that there is no entertainment. We either grab an underserved win, or more likely a frustrating draw or inevitable defeat.

It's been a long time since there has been any romance. I'm hoping this transfer, for once, brings some romance back.

Remember Juninho at Middlesbrough? Payet at West Ham? Di Canio at Sheffield Wednesday? Kanchelskis at Everton? That's the kind of effect I'm hoping for.

John Zapa
34 Posted 04/09/2020 at 16:56:14
I don't share the excitement of many here about James. He is slow, doesn't help much defensively, is injury prone, his best days are many years behind him. He has not had any pre season preparation coming into the most physical league among the top 5 in Europe.

At 29, he will physically decide each year of his contract here, will be on a huge wage and will be more costly (wages) and less productive version of Sigurdsson very soon.

John Pickles
35 Posted 05/09/2020 at 14:36:39
Most of all, I like to watch a team that is challenging for the highest honours, but second to that I like to come home from the match having seen some magic with my own eyes.

IHCSF (if he can stay fit), James I'm sure will, if nothing else, do something in a match that will stay in my memory long after the same match without him would.

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