Marcel Brands should laugh off Sevilla’s naïve approach for James Rodriguez amid claims Everton may be offered Alejandro “Papu” Gomez in exchange for Carlo Ancelotti’s star midfielder.
According to reports in Spain, Los Nervionenses coach Julen Lopetegui and Sporting Director Monchi have fixed their attentions on signing Rodriguez after ruling out a move for Isco.
Sevilla feel it would be impossible to raise the €20m (£17.5m) capital needed to sign Isco from Real Madrid at the end of the season, despite Lopetegui’s love of the Spaniard and prioritising his signature.
Rodriguez is thought to be a likely alternative as the Colombian has been underwhelmed by Everton’s results, which have fallen below the expectations set in discussions with Ancelotti prior to his arrival and are likely to see the Toffees miss out on European football.
Barring a dramatic turn of events that sees the Goodison Park natives secure a berth into one of UEFA’s premier club competitions, it is expected that they will struggle to convince Rodriguez to stay for another season.
Everton would be reluctant to let Rodriguez leave in the summer despite signing him from Real Madrid without a transfer fee last year, and have reportedly set a €30m (£26m) valuation on the 29-year-old in an attempt to ward off interest.
But Sevilla are still keen and are willing to offer the Blues the chance to sign Gomez just six months on from the 33-year-old’s €6m (£5m) arrival, in a player-plus-cash deal that would only see around €10m (£8.5m) change hands.
Monchi is exploring a deal for Rodriguez as he is considered to be a tremendous bonus for Lopetegui’s plans, while a move to the Andalusian outfit would allegedly offer the ex-Los Blancos maestro his best chance of playing for a competitive team in Europe next season.
Everton have not always seen the best of what Rodriguez can offer due to occasional injuries keeping the Colombia international on the sidelines, but few players have contributed to Ancelotti’s offence as much as the 80-cap playmaker.
Only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (14) has scored more often for Everton in the Premier League than Rodriguez (6) has this season, while only Lucas Digne (6) has offered more assists (4). He has also offered the most key passes per game (1.8) and taken the third-most shots (1.7), per WhoScored.
And yet Rodriguez feels “there’s more to come” from him after finding it easy to settle at Goodison Park, where Ancelotti’s presence in the dugout was a key reason behind his decision to move to Merseyside last summer.
He may have somewhat cold feet over a long-term future at Everton having enjoyed trophy-laden spells with Real Madrid and while on loan with Bayern Munich to now see the Toffees struggle for a top-six finish, but it would be foolish for Brands to accept Sevilla’s approach.
Everton clearly hold Rodriguez – who Alex McLeish has lauded as a “tremendous footballer” and Darren Bent considers to be a “maverick” – in high regard, so would be taking a drastic step-back by replacing him with 33-year-old Gomez and less than £10m in cash.
Gomez has only offered Los Nervionenses two goals in 17 games since joining from Serie A side Atalanta BC in January, for whom he had offered 59 goals and 71 assists in 252 outings across all competitions between 2014 and his mid-season exit.
Only two of those assists had come in the Serie A this term where he had topped the charts with 16 last season and 11 the term before that, as the Argentine made the Italian top-flight his playground only to hit reverse in the new surroundings of La Liga.
Everton would likely rue the day they accepted Sevilla’s approach if Brands does not laugh it away, by taking a step back in their progress towards competing for European qualification and removing one of Ancelotti’s key weapons.