James Rodriguez’s arrival at Everton in the summer raised a few eyebrows.
Carlo Ancelotti’s influence on the transfer was evident, and it created an exciting opportunity for the Toffees to sign a player who lit up the 2014 World Cup.
That said, in an exclusive interview with former Everton goalkeeper Nigel Martyn, he told us he did have some initial doubts over the signing.
Would Rodriguez do his share of the running for the team, or would he expect it to be done for him?
Martyn told us those doubts have been swept away now, and one moment during the 2-0 loss at Southampton on Sunday really caught his eye, despite the disappointing result for Everton.
“The addition of Rodriguez, from the outside, I was a bit pensive,” said Martyn.
“Great player, great World Cup, going to Real Madrid, perhaps he would have been hoping to go to a bigger so you often worry about that type of signing.
“The things that I’m looking for is chasing back, lost possession and then didn’t just stay where he was and wait for somebody else to do his work, he was working back as well, which shows he’s keen to find a new home.”
“His start has been excellent, he’s created, he’s scored. When he performs, he will be looked up to be those players. That’s been a big impact on the club.”
Another summer arrival Ancelotti knows well, having worked with him at Napoli is central midfielder Allan.
We asked Martyn if there had been an unsung hero behind Everton’s start to the season and he picked out the Brazilian international.
It’s clear Martyn feels Allan is the type of player who may not get the plaudits from outside, but is richly appreciated by his team-mates.
“I like Allan. Goes under the radar but breaks up a lot of play, doing a bit of the Lee Carsley role from my time there!
“They’re the players other players appreciate a heck of a lot, they do a lot of the running, tackling, the nastier side of the game, the selfless running.
“He’s been really good; his passing is decent as well. He’s impressed me quite a lot. Midfield-wise, they look a stronger outfit than they were last year.”
Later, Martyn also eluded to the fact that Everton were a touch ‘lightweight’ in midfield last season, but the likes of Allan and Rodriguez have helped to rectify that.
The new personnel have also allowed Ancelotti to switch from last year’s 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3, anchored by Allan and allowing Rodriguez the freedom to drift inside.
The fact that both players have worked with Ancelotti before seems to have allowed them to bed in seamlessly, because they’re familiar with the Italian’s demands.
Both are aged 29, and in an era where teams often buy potential, Everton have bought them for the here and now and are reaping the rewards.
Rodriguez may be grabbing a lot of the headlines right now, but Allan will be appreciated just as much by his fellow players.
Speaking to Everton.News, Martyn has also given his verdict on where Everton can realistically hope to finish this season.