When James Rodriguez signed for Everton last summer it was an incredible coup.
This was a player arriving at Goodison Park who had starred for some of the best clubs on the continent and taken the world stage by storm at major tournaments.
Marcel Brands and Farhad Moshiri have had their fair share of howlers on the transfer front but this was nothing short of a masterclass.
Instantly, the Colombian became a hit on Merseyside. Rodriguez scored and assisted on just his second Premier League start and then on his fourth outing, he found the net twice and registered another assist.
He was a joy to watch and gave the Toffees some much-needed pizzazz in the final third.
However, good things cannot last forever. Rodriguez missed the back end of last season with an injury and hasn’t been seen this term either.
The Colombia international was supposedly self-isolating a few weeks ago but with the window slamming shut in just a few days, it would be surprising if he’s still an Everton player once it closes.
He has regularly been linked with pastures new and admitted on a Twitch stream recently that he didn’t even know who Everton’s next opponents were. If that doesn’t send alarm bells ringing and red flags waving, nothing will.
The Toffees have been fine without him, taking four points from their opening two league matches.
That being said, they will need a replacement if he heads out through the exit door. If Rafa Benitez has any sense, that successor will be Jesse Lingard.
He returned to Manchester United this summer after a wonderful loan spell with West Ham but is yet to break into their starting line-up again and subsequently, hasn’t added to his 33 goals for the Red Devils.
Substitute appearances have occurred but Lingard is surely craving regular starts again. After all, he was described as “exceptional” by David Moyes during his time in east London.
Playing out wide and through the middle, his game intelligence and ability to carve something out of nothing was first class. As such, he’s now attracted a whole host of suitors, including the Toffees.
Lingard scored nine times for the Hammers in the second half of last season, strikes that came in just 16 top-flight outings. Furthermore, the England international picked up five assists, showing he knows how to turn provider as well.
Once thought of as the joker among the pack, the attacking midfielder now has a great deal of maturity to his game too. As we saw at West Ham, he is willing to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and win matches for his team.
Once Rodriguez departs Goodison, finding someone who knows how to do that will be vital. Lingard is their man.