James Rodriguez open to Everton return after being forced out by Benitez

James Rodriguez Everton 2020-21
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The Colombian playmaker left Goodison Park for Al-Rayyan in September 2021 after struggling to make an impact in England

James Rodriguez claims he would be open to returning to Everton after seeing a move away from a “spectacular club” forced by former Toffees boss Rafa Benitez.

The Colombian playmaker made a stunning switch to Goodison Park during the summer of 2020, as he was reunited with former Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on Merseyside.

He struggled to make an impact in English football, though, and was offloaded to Qatari side Al-Rayyan in September 2021 by a Spanish coach that showed no faith in him.

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What has been said?

James has said during a discussion on Twitch: "Go back to Everton one day? Of course I would go back to Everton. It's a spectacular club with incredible fans, but I found a coach who didn't want to count on me.

"I wanted to stay there but the manager didn't want to count on me. Until the last day I was super-professional and I trained to the fullest.

"I wanted to be remembered as I am, a good person and a great professional. It was the coach's decision. Some people love you and others don't, you have to respect that."

What was James’ record at Everton?

The South American arrived at Goodison Park amid much fanfare, but departed having taken in just 26 appearances for the club.

He did register six Premier League goals through 23 top-flight outings, and eight assists in all competitions, but never really got going with the Toffees.

JAMES RODRIGUEZ EVERTON

A new challenge has now been taken on in the Middle East, with those left behind at Goodison Park battling to avoid relegation.

Benitez paid the price for those struggles with his job in January, with an ex-Liverpool coach never winning over a sceptical fan base, and Frank Lampard is now calling the shots.

Has anyone else had a say on James?

James was not the only one to be left surprised when an exit door was flung open in front of him by Benitez, with Everton forward Richarlison questioning the decision to let a proven playmaker leave.

He has told TNT Sports of sales sanctioned by the Toffees: “When I arrived from the Olympics, I was surprised at how much he (James) was running and dedicating himself to training, training well.

“And out of nowhere, the coach (Benitez) said he didn’t count on him any more. And nobody understood anything.

“So I think that also weighed a little on the group. Because we know about James’ quality. Also from [Lucas] Digne, who we ended up losing. So it weighs, it weighs. Like it or not, it weighs on the group.

“We had a united group there and ended up losing two important players. So I think that’s it. James, we wish him all the best.

“And that’s it. We lost Bernard too, who was an important player.

“And it’s like I said, we had everything to reach the Europa League or the Champions League and we lose players so easily. Lose players through injury too. It ends up making competition difficult.”

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