The James Rodriguez Effect: What Everton's New Signing Will Bring to the Club

13 September 2020 08:00

Was it a daydream? A mirage? A particularly improbable Football Manager save? Surely Everton haven't managed to sign one of the most talented attacking midfielders to have graced the last decade of football?

If you rub your eyes Toffees fans, he's still there and still decked out in royal blue after Everton coughed up £12m to rescue James Rodríguez from his Real Madrid limbo and confirm his long-awaited introduction to Premier League football.

Admittedly, English football fans might need a bit of reintroducing to James, who dropped off the radar somewhat after that 2014 World Cup. His dream move to Madrid turned into a bit of a nightmare, with a seemingly endless list of injury setbacks stopping him from making an impact at the Bernabéu.

So without further ado, let's have a look at exactly what Everton fans will be getting out of one of the unlikeliest deals of the summer.

1. Creativity

First and foremost, Everton haven't just signed a fella who will give Gylfi Sigurdsson a run for his money, but one of the most creative players in the recent history of the game. He's registered a whopping 81 assists in league competition since moving to Europe with Porto in 2010.

What makes this all the more incredible is how consistent a creator James has been despite the injury-interrupted nature of career. In his rather underappreciated stint in the Bundesliga, he registered the third-most assists in the league in the 2017/18 season, and though he was three assists short of the first-placed Thomas Muller, he had also started ten fewer games.

Watching James, it's not hard to see how he racks up so many - his set-pieces are exceptionally accurate, while his speed of thought in the box is second-to-none - so Dominic Calvert-Lewin has no excuse not to turn into prime Alan Shearer this season.

2. A Great Relationship With Carlo Ancelotti

In what is admittedly a slightly more glamorous version of Harry Redknapp taking Niko Kranjcar with him everywhere he goes, Rodríguez's move to Everton is a continuation of one of football's great love stories, reuniting him with a man who has already signed him twice in Carlo Ancelotti.

Ancelotti admitted that he was 'attached' to James while attempting to sign him at Napoli, a nice way of expressing his part in the beautiful footballing relationship between two guys who have always helped one another out in a pinch.

Carletto's insistence to Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that he had to have James in 2017 helped reignite the Colombian's career, which looked to be stagnating at Real Madrid, and James admitted to Everton's website that he is looking to return the favour and 'prove it is a good choice to reunite with the manager'.

Almost brings a tear to your eye.

3. Injuries?

Right, we may as well get this one out of the way.

Ankle injuries, knee ligament problems, muscular issues and a dodgy calf.think of an injury and James has probably got it within the last decade. English football fans may well remember that he was ruled out of the Three Lions' World Cup round of 16 clash with Colombia after that calf went yet again.

It's meant that James' career has been pretty stop-start, and he's rarely been able to get a good run of games under his belt, having only played over 30 league games in his solitary season at Monaco since arriving in Europe. In a less pressurised club such as Everton where he won't have to fight for a place, James' fitness might hopefully be less of an impediment to his career.

4. Exceptional Technique

Alongside the creativity that has made him a star, James is one of the most aesthetically pleasing strikers of a ball you are likely to see, and may well be submitting a few Goal of the Season entries to Match of the Day this season.

There's no need for me to go into too much detail about that goal against Uruguay, but his delightful chip against Japan in the same 2014 World Cup is often unfairly forgotten, while he remains one of the only players to be score a self set-up overhead kick (against Real Betis).

He's also got form for hitting a free-kick about as sweetly as it's possible to do, and after a few seasons of Sigurdsson speculative shooting, Rodríguez's rockets sound like a much tastier proposition.

5. A History of Trophies

Managers love to claim they're signing a 'serial winner' these days, when it more often than not means they've just been hanging around the fringes at PSG for a few years. But Everton now have a midfielder who truly has made an impact in some of football's biggest matches.

Sorry Messi, but James was by far and away the best player at the 2014 World Cup, and he so nearly took his country to the brink of the impossible.

Having been a part of the Real Madrid team that clinched the 2015 Champions League, he then came close to knocking out his parent club while on loan at Bayern in 2018. The least Everton fans can hope for is that one of their players actually shows up in a Merseyside derby this season.

6. Popularity

Quite simply put, James Rodríguez is gargantuan.

Not a one Premier League club can compete with the ludicrous 42 million Instagram followers that he possesses, while in his native Colombia they've taken the step of changing the colour of Coke cans to Everton's very own blue to celebrate the move of their national idol.

The Colombian has been a familiar face in South America for yonks, having debuted for Banfield at the ridiculous age of 14, and he was christened 'The James Bond of Banfield' in Argentina after scoring a sumptuous chip against Banfield's rivals Lanús.

You get the sense that there might be a few shirts sold off the back of this signing, not to mention a few thousand new fans tuning in at 7AM to watch Everton matches.

7. A Midfield Refresh

If there was one thing about Everton that stood out like a sore thumb, it's that its midfield simply wasn't fit for purpose. Tom Davies, Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes have all struggled to help Everton dominate games.

Alongside Abdoulaye Doucouré and Rodriguez's fellow South American Allan, Everton now have the blueprint for a midfield that can create chances and control the tempo of matches, and just maybe take them to the dizzying heights of seventh place.

Source: 90min