'Go away!' - James Rodriguez opens up on feud with Rafa Benitez that led to Everton exit & explains why Carlo Ancelotti didn't improve him at Real Madrid
- James joined Everton before Benitez
- Spanish coach did not want him at Toffees
- Soon left for Qatari side Al-Rayyan
WHAT HAPPENED? James joined Everton on a free transfer from Real Madrid in 2020 when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge and featured 26 times despite suffering with injury troubles. After leaving the Toffees for Real Madrid the following summer, the Italian coach was replaced by Benitez and the attacking midfielder's future quickly became the subject of speculation.
The ex-Monaco and Madrid star was offloaded in September 2021 without featuring under the Spaniard and ended up joining Qatari side Al-Rayyan.
WHAT THEY SAID: James explained to Noticias RCN that Benitez made it clear early on that he did not want him around, saying: "When he arrived at Everton on the first day he told me: 'Go away. You are 30 years old and I want young people, who have energy' and I had a spectacular year with Everton, so I wasn't going to start fighting with him."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: After Ancelotti returned to Madrid, it was reported that he could bring James with him, having already worked with him in the Spanish capital and at Bayern Munich and Everton. Despite their long history, the 31-year-old says Ancelotti did not do enough to improve him.
"Ancelotti just didn't make me a better player. He did it with Vinicius, with Rodrygo, Fede Valverde and many more," he said. "They were good, but now they are at an impressive level.
"I think that in football there are coaches who are not tactically geniuses, but who have team management. They know how to talk to you, they know how to reach you, they are like a father to you and you value that more than anything else. If they protect you, you are going to give everything for them."
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? James is currently without a club after his contract at Olympiakos was terminated in April. He hopes to find a new club over the summer, however, saying: "In Europe the season is ending so the teams have not planned the following season. It will begin to move in June and July to see who wants a number 10. I want to stay in Europe, where I can play every three days, I feel very good physically."