In their ongoing battle to break into the Premier League’s top six, Everton made a real statement of intent when signing James Rodríguez from Real Madrid in September 2020. By reuniting the Colombian – a true global superstar – with Carlo Ancelotti, a manager with Champions League pedigree, Everton hoped they finally had the quality to compete consistently for European qualification.
Six years had passed since Rodríguez was the leading goalscorer at the 2014 World Cup, a tournament at which he scored one of the competition’s greatest ever goals. His performances inspired Real, then managed by Ancelotti, to recruit him for £71m and, in doing so, make the then 23-year-old the fourth most expensive player of all time. Having later played under Ancelotti at Bayern Munich, the two know each other well. “James is a fantastic player with a lot of quality and a lot of ability to make assists for the strikers,” Ancelotti said. “If they (the striker) do not score at least 20 goals each they can have a problem with me.”