Many in the Everton dressing room had major concerns about James Rodriguez’s work rate before the Colombian’s acrimonious departure to Qatar this week, as reported by The Athletic.
While plenty of Toffees supporters will cast their minds back to that superb start to last season and wonder what might have been, it’s worth remembering that, even then, doubts about Rodriguez’s suitability were growing fast.
Everton may have won their first four games of the campaign – scoring 12 goals along the way – but for all Rodriguez contributed in the final third, those creative instincts as sharp as ever, his presence in the starting XI was causing as many problems as it was solving.
It didn’t take long for opposition teams to realise they could get a lot of joy down the Everton right with the former Real Madrid superstar, playing wide on the flank at the time, reluctant or unable to track back to provide protection for an exposed and overworked Seamus Coleman.
And while Carlo Ancelotti was happy to indulge the whims of one of the planet’s most famous footballers, an old-school disciplinarian like Rafa Benitez was always likely to opt for the stick rather than the carrot.
Were Everton right to offload James Rodriguez to Qatar?
Benitez endured a strained relationship with James during their time together at the Santiago Bernabeu.
And it was no surprise when the 30-year-old was told he was free to leave shortly after Benitez’s return to English shores.
According to The Athletic, few behind the scenes at Goodison Park will be pining for their £200,000-a-week teammate either.
While his undoubted technical ability left some open-mouthed, those same teammates would soon bemoan the fact having Rodriguez in the side at times felt like playing with ten men.
The 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner joined Qatari outfit Al-Rayyan, now coached by Laurent Blanc, for an undisclosed fee this week.
I wonder what kind of leaving party his former Everton teammates threw?