If reports are to be believed then Rafa Benitez means business as the new manager of Everton.
Gone are the days of the measly budgets he entertained when he was last in the Premier League as the Toffees aim to spend big once again.
One area of concern for Everton this summer could be James Rodriguez.
The Colombian signed on a free transfer 12 months ago but could be heading for the exit door already.
Jorge Mendes has reportedly held conversations over his client with AC Milan so Benitez will need to be on the lookout for a replacement.
One player who was being targeted was Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho, someone who like Benitez, has a strong attachment to Liverpool.
Barca need to significantly reduce their wage bill and shipping on the Brazilian could be one way of doing so.
He has lit up the Premier League on plenty of occasions, contributing to 99 goals for the red side of Merseyside.
If a move for Coutinho cannot be concluded, then it would appear as though Benitez is targeting a deal for Real Madrid star Isco.
That’s according to reports in Spain (via Sport Witness) who suggest that Coutinho has rejected the Toffees with Everton now identifying the Madrid midfielder as a target instead.
The new manager ‘wants to sign him’ but he may have to take a salary reduction with the 29-year-old earning £225k-per-week at the Bernabeu.
Isco has endured a significant drop off in his performances in the last few years, scoring just one goal and providing four assists in the last two campaigns.
However, James was hardly in the form of his life before joining Everton last year. The Colombia international was involved in only two goals throughout his final season with Madrid before contributing to ten Premier League strikes in 2020/21.
Therefore, Benitez and the supporters needn’t worry about Isco’s qualities. All the Spaniard needs is more game time to improve his fitness and rediscover his form.
At his best, he once produced 2.2 key passes and 2.1 dribbles per game for the European heavyweights.
Crucially, he’s also a player that Benitez knows well and rates. The experienced attacking midfielder has played 20 times under the new Everton boss, scoring three goals and assisting a further six strikes.
Speaking about his game back in 2015, the 61-year-old said: “Isco is a great footballer and what he needs to do is to carry on doing what he has been this whole time. Work, work with intensity and dedication and beyond that make the most of the quality he has to score the odd goal more.”
Benitez left just a matter of months later so perhaps at the second time of asking, he could extract more goals from Isco’s play.
If Rodriguez does head for the departure lounge, signing the Madrid gem would be quite the coup.