Evertonians had already started to doubt if they would see James Rodriguez play for the club in the flesh. Tuesday’s developments intensified that sensation.
In a shock move, Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti left Goodison Park to take up the vacant position at Real Madrid following the departure of Zinedine Zidane. It sees the Italian return to the club where he won the European Cup in 2014 and leaves Everton rudderless at the start of a crucial summer.
It was in Madrid where the kinship between Ancelotti and Rodriguez began, with the Colombian joining in 2014 after a stellar World Cup. Since linking up in Spain, the pair worked together in Munich and last season in Liverpool.
When Rodriguez joined Everton last summer, it was considered a coup and supporters were understandably full of excitement to see such a talented player in royal blue. There was also an appreciation that if Ancelotti wasn’t at Goodison Park, then Rodriguez wouldn’t be either. It was an example of the gravitas a three-time European Cup winner can have.
So there’s an obvious question to ask now: what happens next for the Colombian superstar?
It’s been a turbulent few weeks for Rodriguez. Not only did he miss the end of Everton’s season and receive significant criticism for doing so—Ancelotti said the Colombian sat out the home game with Wolverhampton Wanderers because he was “fatigued”—he was left out of the Copa America squad due to concerns over his fitness.
The hope was that some time to recuperate this summer would give Rodriguez a better chance of playing more games for Everton next season under a manager who knows how to get the best from him. While he sparkled when he was on the pitch for the Toffees in 2020-21, the campaign was punctured by a number of injury issues, leaving Everton without a reliable chance creator.
But now, his future feels in serious jeopardy, with just one year remaining on his contract and the one major reason for his arrival on Merseyside departed.