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JAMES RODRIGUEZ LEAVES EVERTON FOR QATAR CLUB AL RAYYAN

Qatari club Al Rayyan have confirmed the signing of James Rodriguez from Everton.

The Toffees say the Colombian has left for an undisclosed fee, having joined on a free transfer last season and with just one year left on his deal.

He leaves almost exactly a year since he joined Everton to great fanfare and much excitement.

The playmaker sparkled in his early performances, scoring three goals in his first five appearances, the kind of Rolls-Royce player Evertonians have been starved of for years.

But sadly those performances tailed off as time went on, with a series of niggling injuries meaning he was frequently absent from the side.

He made 26 appearances during the 2020-21 season, scoring six goals, but Evertonians were hopeful for more with a full pre-season behind him.

Sadly his fate was sealed the moment Carlo Ancelotti left for Real Madrid. James openly admitted he only joined Everton because of the Italian, so his departure made an exit almost inevitable.

Rafa Benitez’s appointment as Ancelotti’s successor further pushed him towards the exit door, with the Spaniard having endured a difficult relationship with James during their time at Real Madrid.

But with a reported wage of £200,000 a week there were predictably few takers in a market still reeling from the financial devastation of Covid.

James quickly became a huge drain on resources and an awkward topic of conversation in press conferences, with Benitez blaming Covid isolation then lack of fitness for his exclusion from the first team so far this season.

Moves to Portugal and Turkey collapsed before the August transfer deadline, raising the prospect of James staying here until at least January. But the Qatar window was still open – and he is now finally on his way.

The overriding feeling for me is one of huge disappointment. James is a genuine world-class talent who would ordinarily come nowhere near our club. His fitness record plays a part in that of course, but Ancelotti’s willingness to indulge him made it look a risk worth taking.

Sadly it was a fragile relationship that collapsed as soon as Ancelotti left. James then suddenly became a financial burden at a time where the club was scrambling to keep in line with profit and sustainability rules.

With Benitez wanting to build a team prepared to scrap for every point, James quickly became a luxury we didn’t need or could afford.

The Colombian didn’t help himself at times either, saying he didn’t even know who Everton were playing before last month’s trip to Leeds was revealing.

We don’t know the exact details and likely never will, but it is clear a move away is the best for all concerned.

The cruel irony is that James departs without having ever played in front of a Goodison crowd.