Photo via Tony McArdle – Everton FC/Everton FC/Getty Images
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti continues his renovation project with Everton as the club acquired Colombian attacking midfielder James Rodriguez from Real Madrid for 25 million euros. They agreed to a two-year deal with an option for a third year.
“James… is a fantastic player with a lot of quality and a lot of ability to make assists for the strikers,” said Ancelotti. “He was really excited to sign and I didn’t spend time to convince him — he was already convinced.”
Ancelotti is one of football’s most successful managers, winning three Champions League titles (two with AC Milan and one with Real Madrid). After being sacked by Napoli on Dec. 10, 2019, Everton appointed him to be their new manager 12 days later. Everton performed mediocrely during his first action with the club. During “Project Restart,” Everton posted a 3-3-3 record. They finished 12th in the final Premier League table with a -12-goal differential.
James has played for Ancelotti two different times, 2014-15 for Real Madrid and 2017-18 for Bayern Munich. James in 2014 joined Real Madrid after winning the Golden Boot in the 2014 World Cup, scoring six goals and leading Colombia to the quarterfinals. and Ancelotti spent a whole season together in the 2014-15 season as James notched 16 goals and 15 assists across all competitions.
After a rough 2016-17, James joined Bayern Munich on loan from Real Madrid and while Ancelotti was sacked in September, James posted a decent season with eight goals and 14 assists. After riding the bench at Real Madrid last season, Rodriguez was eager for a change of scenery and found a new home with Everton.
“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,” said James to the Everton website. “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.”
Everton is a club with two reliable scorers in Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison who scored 13 goals each. No other player had more than three goals and seven assists.
After their 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur, I wrote how Everton needed a game changer. They got one in Rodriguez, a player specializing in creativity in his passing and scoring. He can lead an electric attack and set his teammates up with tremendous chances.
Rodriguez has been criticized the past few years for his lack of work ethic and poor attitude. However, reuniting with Ancelotti (as the quotes above state) has excited him and I think this move will reignite his stardom he has displayed at times for Real Madrid and Colombia.
Everton needed a playmaker and got a World Cup Golden Boot winner. Time will tell how he improves their attack but on paper, this looks like the right move for the club.
Everton has also acquired midfielders Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure from Napoli and Watford respectively. These additions should increase the flow of the attack but more importantly, provide aid to their backline.
Everton begins their 2020-21 Premier League campaign at Tottenham on Sunday.