Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton made all the major headlines and gossip throughout the 2020 summer transfer window and ultimately capped off another hefty spending spree with a Colombian superstar which left the footballing world starstruck and Evertonians in jubilation.
While this transfer fiasco was only recently completed, it is still incredible to fathom an Everton side that featured James Rodriguez pairing with the likes of Alex Iwobi and Bernard on the flank, with world renowned manager Carlo Ancelotti in the Goodison dugout alongside the towering and often intimating Ducan Ferguson.
After a lengthy tenure at the Santiago Bernadeau with Real Madrid, that included a loan spell with Bayern Munich, James swapped Madrid for Merseyside and signed for Everton on what is now estimated to be a free transfer figure.
It was a move that sent shockwaves throughout the footballing landscape as the dormant Merseyside club had now brought in a major asset to improve performances on the pitch and a superstar athlete who helped further promote the club’s social media following.
Everton went all out when announcing their new marquee signing with images of James on advertising boards in major destinations including Times Square, Miami Beach and atop of Colombia’s tallest building which featured an LED screen board of James Rodriguez’ new shirt number. This heralded the beginning of new days on Goodison …
As expected, Everton fans were stoked ahead of the new season and with fellow new arrivals in Abdoulaye Doucouré, Allan and Ben Godfrey (all of whom have since proven to be excellent arrivals for the Toffees), excitement began brewing in the Everton camp and things could not have gotten off to a better start!
James’ first game in an Everton shirt came in the Blues’ season opener against Spurs where a Dominic Calvert-Lewin header was enough to see off the Londoners in an enticing encounter, with James playing out an impressive debut that left a sign of things to come.
Next week, James was on the scoresheet in his home debut against West Brom when he struck home a sweetly driven shot from the edge of the area to give Everton a 2-1 lead after initially trailing the game 1-0. James also impressed with a fantastic setup later in the game for Everton’s fourth goal with the Toffees ultimately running out as 5-2 winners.
After a 2-1 away at Crystal Palace, James inspired Everton to a 4-2 victory over Brighton with the Colombian bagging twice and assisting his international counterpart Yerry Mina in the first half, with the victory sending Everton to the top of the Premiership after a phenomenal start to the new season.
All was brewing well in the Everton camp ahead of their next upcoming games, yet there was further raised worries of injuries as James in particular would miss out on a number of games which saw the Toffees form begin to plummet, particularly in their home encounters.
Everton would miss James Rodriguez for a large part of the Christmas period but would still secure wins against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal that saw Everton still remain as a lively ‘top six’ contender.
Heading into the new year, James would return and bag important goals against the likes of Leicester and Manchester United and setup a crucial goal in Everton’s famous 2-0 Merseyside Derby victory over bitter rivals Liverpool at Anfield (marking the first time the Toffees had beaten the Reds away from home since 1999).
Despite James showing clear quality on the pitch and garnishing a great following for the club off the field, Evertonians became frustrated when it was announced that James would continue to miss further games with nagging injuries.
With Everton’s form continuing to decline heading into the closing months of the season, fans continued to question whether James Rodriguez had the dedication to remain as an Everton player given that he was still a proven name and had shown great glimpses of quality whenever he was rarely fit to play, almost reminiscent of Jack Wilshere’s injury ridden tenure at Arsenal.
James’ final appearance in the Everton line-up was during a frustrating defeat against already relegated Sheffield United, with the Toffee’s home form proving to be a major issue throughout the season.
He would miss their next home game against Wolves, which was the first game that fans were able to return to football venues, and the final day hammering against eventual champions Manchester City as Sergio Aguero capped off a phenomenal showing before announcing his retirement from football following his move to Barcelona later that summer.
After Carlo Ancelotti’s impromptu exit for Real Madrid only months later, new manager Rafa Benitez made it very clear that he did not see James Rodriguez as being a part of his future plans and the Colombian was soon jetted off to Qatar to join Al Rayyan without playing a single minute in front of the lively Goodison faithful.
It seems Rafa made the right decision to send James Rodriguez out of the Goodison exit door as he was still on a major wage and was never fully fit for a large part of his time in Merseyside.
James has also struggled since arriving in Qatar and was even sent off in a recent league encounter against Al-Arabi where he was seen ripping his shirt and sprinting down the tunnel following his dismissal.
While James Rodriguez’ arrival certainly brought the club to great providence as a brand off the pitch, fans still question whether the Colombian could have given a greater desire when available as he certainly bolstered a tremendous talent when fully fit.
James will always be a legend of the country of Colombia much like his international teammate Radamel Falcao, yet it’s hard to look back on his stint in England and label this as a successful spell as he was hardly featured in the Everton line-up despite being the club’s most gifted talent which is likely a key reason for the Toffees’ poor showings towards the end of the season and the eventual departure of Carlo Ancelotti as manager.
An exciting time for all Evertonians that was eventually squandered and left with more to be desired.