Everton are closing in on a massive move for Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez.
The Toffees have submitted a bid to the Spanish giants, which the club are considering accepting.
Sky Sports claim that talks between the teams are progressing and that the one-time world-coveted star could be on his way to the Premier League.
Rodriguez himself is said to be keen to move to Goodison Park to work under Carlo Ancelotti once again. The pair were together at both Madrid and Bayern Munich.
The Italian boss is still a big fan, saying last month that he likes him “a lot as a player”.
He played down a move at the time, but James looks set to rejoin Ancelotti this year, on a three-year contract.
There is no mention of a fee just yet, but Everton will hope to get him on the cheap due to him being in the last year of his Real Madrid deal.
James needs a career kickstart
James was one of the world’s hottest properties after the 2014 World Cup, in which he helped carry Colombia to the quarter-finals.
He won the tournament’s Golden Boot with six goals, including a stunner against Uruguay which won the 2014 FIFA Puskas Award.
The then 23-year-old had only joined Monaco’s mega-money revolution a year previous, signing from Porto for a massive £40.5 million. He was one of football’s top prospects but was not yet a household name.
This all changed when his World Cup campaign launched him to superstardom, encouraging Real Madrid to pay a humongous €75 million to sign him in July 2014.
While he showed glimpses of his obvious talent at the Bernabeu, he never lit the place up like he was tipped to do. Numerous small injuries ensured his time at Los Blancos was quite stop-start.
His three seasons in Madrid brought a respectable 28 goals and 27 assists in 77 league games.
He joined Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal, where his career continued on the same path. He was very useful, yet suffered from more niggling injuries.
The German side chose to not sign him permanently, despite a good spell at the Allianz bringing 14 league goals and the same number of assists in 47 games.
James returned to the Bernabeu last summer, but Zinadine Zidane clearly did not fancy him.
He made only eight La Liga appearances in 2019/20.
Injuries, and perhaps being overhyped, have held James back, but he is still a very good player.
If, and that’s a big if, he managed to stay injury-free, he could be a very, very useful player for any European team.
Is Everton the right place to go?
A top-form James Rodriguez is better than anyone currently in the Toffees’ squad. But a top-form James Rodriguez is becoming a rarer sight by the year.
Yet if anyone can get the best from him, it should be Carlo Ancelotti.
James’ two best seasons were in 2014/15 and 2017/18. He was managed by Ancelotti in both of these campaigns.
The legendary gaffer played a 4-4-2 for the majority of last season, but James does not have a natural home in this system.
Signing the 29-year-old would probably mean a move to a 4-2-3-1, as James is at his best in the no.10 role.
He could do a fine job behind Dominic Calvert-Lewin, with Richarlison to the left and perhaps Anthony Gordon or Alex Iwobi on the right.
There would have to be a solid base in midfield, which Fabian Delph and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin could provide if fit.
Some fans conceive James to be a rather lazy player, but this is far from the truth.
In his eight La Liga games last year, he averaged 2.5 tackles and interceptions per game.
Apart from last season, his defensive numbers throughout his career peaked when playing under Ancelotti.
This suggests that the 61-year-old can get more from James than anyone else. The player obviously loves playing under the manager.
There are some problems. He is turning 30 next year, so Everton will not get a very long spell out of him. There is also the poor injury history.
The transfer fee may not be high, but his wages probably will be.
Old players on high wages is never a good sign, but a three-year-contact is reasonably short.
James Rodriguez to Everton is a risk for all parties. But it is a risk worth taking.