Everton have been no stranger to costly transfer errors over the years, with one of the more notable blunders having been the signing of former Real Madrid playmaker, James Rodriguez, with the Colombian spending just a solitary season at Goodison Park.
A World Cup Golden Boot winner in 2014, the dynamic midfielder arrived on Merseyside to much fanfare, with manager Carlo Ancelotti having looked to have pulled off something of a coup in bringing in a player whom he’d previously managed at the Bernabeu and at Bayern Munich.
With the 88-cap magician approaching the end of his contract in the Spanish capital, the Toffees were able to secure what at the time had appeared a relative bargain fee of around £12m, with the player signing on a two-year contract.
Amid all the fanfare, however, there were those who had seemingly foreseen what was to come with regards to the one-time Porto man’s time in English football, with pundit Ally McCoist one of those who voiced his doubts over the move.
Speaking to talkSPORT (01/09/20, 7:50) at the time ahead of the confirmation of the deal, the former Rangers hero noted that while the move would be something of a “statement signing” as far as the club were concerned, it may not pay off quite as intended, as he fired over a strong warning:
“The one thing you want when you sign a player is if the guy is [eager] to turn up for work. By that I mean, fit to play, available for selection and do they play? That would be a concern of mine.
“Look, he’s extremely talented. There’s no getting away from it. I’m not sure he is a Real Madrid standard player. I know he had an absolutely fantastic World Cup [in 2014]. But it would concern me.
“If he turns up for his work, he would be a great signing. If he’s fit and you get him playing, I think it would give Everton a real, real boost. It is a statement, a real statement to make – Only time will tell on a signing like that.”
Ancelotti and co were ultimately left wishing they had headed that warning, with McCoist having almost perfectly epitomised just how it would pan out for Rodriguez at the club, with the player offering notable moments of quality, although was too often restricted to the treatment table.
Initially, the former Monaco man had made a sparkling start to life in his new surroundings as he provided six goal contributions in just his first five league games, notably getting off the mark with a stunning strike in the 5-2 win over West Bromwich Albion.
After that blistering opening, the 5 foot 11 man’s form would quickly tumble as he was repeatedly struck down by injury, while his willingness to put in the hard yards defensively was also repeatedly questioned, with pundit Gabby Agbonlahor notably stating at one stage: “he throws his arms in the air if someone doesn’t pass to him and his work rate is non-existent.”
Fellow pundit Darren Bent also likened Rodriguez to former Arsenal man Mesut Ozil for being “not very effective” with regards to putting in a shift, with the fleet-footed “maverick” – as also dubbed by Bent – almost proving something of a passenger when his side didn’t have possession.
That approach was unsurprisingly at odds with Ancelotti’s replacement Rafa Benitez who swiftly ditched the Colombia international in the summer of 2021, with the club likely to have been thankful to get his reported £200k-per-week salary off the wage bill.
Looking into his crystal ball, McCoist had almost foreshadowed what was to come, with the now 31-year-old mercurial talent impressing somewhat in an attacking sense – with 15 goal involvements in 27 appearances – although largely struggled for a consistent run in the side, having never truly got up to speed.