James Rodriguez has settled seamlessly into the Everton family

James Rodriguez has settled seamlessly into the Everton family with singing, tricks and overhead kicks… he joined with a point to prove after Real Madrid exile and has the potential to make himself a club icon

  • Everton’s newest star signing James Rodriguez has impressed his team-mates 
  • His flicks, tricks and acrobatic efforts earned him a round of applause last week 
  • James is keen to prove a point and has settled into the rhythm at his new club 
  • Those who have worked with James have described him as being down-to-earth 

Michael Keane’s eyes lit up as he told the story of James Rodriguez’s first day at Everton. It takes something unusual for footballers to react with such animation but events at Finch Farm last Tuesday dictated it.

Any notion Everton had signed someone with questionable motivation was dispelled during the first virtuoso 90 minutes Rodriguez spent with his new colleagues. There were flicks, tricks and even an overhead kick that sparked a round of applause. It was a precursor of what was to come.

‘His touch!’ explained Keane with excitement. ‘He was nutmegging people, lashing shots into the top corner; glimpses of what he is capable of, he showed that against Spurs.

James Rodriguez has impressed his Everton team-mates after a week full of flicks and tricks

‘He rarely lost the ball, the weight of the passes he fired across the pitch were unbelievable!’

There is something about being around class that enlivens professionals and Keane was understandably raving after Rodriguez’s debut in Everton’s opening 1-0 win. If these standards are maintained, enthusiasm will soar.

‘You don’t play for the clubs he has – and win the things he has – if you don’t have quality,’ continued Keane. 

‘The other new lads, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure, were outstanding as well. But James – he’s a superstar, isn’t he?’

Michael Keane was raving about James’ scintillating debut in Everton’s win against Tottenham

The question needed no answer. Rodriguez, the Golden Boot winner at the 2014 World Cup, has won 19 major honours, including two Champions Leagues, and is Everton’s biggest-ever signing, certainly in terms of global presence.

His image was beamed from screens in Times Square, New York, when Everton announced the deal. The Colpatria Tower in Bogota, Colombia’s capital, was lit up blue. It has led to a surge in interest from Colombians and there is a market for Everton to explore.

This is not just about easy commercialism, however. Carlo Ancelotti had been thinking about a reunion with the 29-year-old, with whom he worked in Spain and Germany, through lockdown and he was his prime target for the window.

Working with ‘Professor Ancelotti’ was appealing but so was a fresh start and game time. James has joined Everton with a point to prove after spending 12 months, almost in exile, at Real Madrid.

James found working with Carlo Ancelotti appealing but had also been eager for a fresh start

He wants to remind people of his wonderful ability, which led Madrid to pay £60million for him, and the way he has quickly settled into the rhythm of the Everton dressing room has impressed his new colleagues as much as his ability.

Those who have worked with him describe him as down-to-earth, a trait Everton chairman Bill Kenwright noticed when he held talks with the Colombian in his London base when they were finalising the move. 

Kenwright’s office is a shrine to Everton, festooned with memorabilia.

And during the course of a two-hour conversation, it was the mention of Wayne Rooney that struck a chord with Rodriguez, who has the potential to make himself a club icon.

A two-hour conversation with Bill Kenwright (left) saw mention of Wayne Rooney strike a chord

Rodriguez has been welcomed into a group headed by his compatriot – the gregarious Yerry Mina – and also includes the Brazilians, Bernard and Richarlison, and Portugal midfielder Andre Gomes. 

They hosted a welcome dinner for him in one of Liverpool’s high-end restaurants. 

But he has not been limited to just mixing with the Latin contingent. He won acclaim from the squad as a whole for standing up on Saturday, in a room at the Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch, by singing his Brazilian initiation song and concluding it with a dance. 

Confidence is not going to be an issue.

James won acclaim among the squad after standing up on Saturday with a song and dance

Mina will have a crucial role in ensuring Rodriguez’s transition is smooth. The defender was constantly there for him at Tottenham, yelling ‘Jay! Jay!’ each time he thought there would be physical difficulties.

‘I was in touch with Yerry a few days before (I came),’ explained Rodriguez. ‘He was on at me to sign. “Come on!” Every day he was like this!

‘This is a club with big plans and I only see serious people here who want to succeed. I’m happy with this new life, a new kind of football. There’s a lot of quality in the team, a lot of talented players.’

And those players have seen one firecracker. Rodriguez is now ready to sparkle.

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