Rafael Benitez has prevailed after Everton completed the sale of James Rodriguez and managed to offload the entirety of his massive wages in the process.
The Colombian playmaker, 30, raised eyebrows when signing for Everton in 2020. His connection with ex-Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti is understood to have played a major factor in his decision to swap the Bernabeu for Goodison Park.
Rodriguez performed capably on Merseyside amid an injury-hit season. He notched six goals and five assists in 23 matches. But the arrival of Benitez put the writing on the wall.
Rodriguez has never been known for his defensive work-rate – something Benitez demands of his attacking players.
Indeed, speculation quickly began to swirl Everton would look to offload Rodriguez and remove his enormous salary from the books in the process.
The playmaker was allegedly pocketing £200,000-per-week, a figure that hampered the club’s ability to sign new players.
Speaking after their penalty shoot-out defeat in the EFL Cup to QPR, Benitez said regarding Rodriguez exit rumours: “Don’t forget, we are talking about a special situation from this club. The financial fair play rules have to manage everything in the best way we can.”
Rodriguez had been linked with Al-Rayyan. And after brief negotiations, the Qatari side have completed a deal to sign Rodriguez on a permanent deal for an undisclosed fee.
His arrival was confirmed via their twitter account that included a 15 second welcome video.
Everton eyeing AC Milan captain raid
Meanwhile, Everton are making January transfer plans and Benitez has set his sights on landing AC Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli, according to a report.
According to CMW, (via Sport Witness) Benitez wants Romagnoli in January. The 12-cap Italy international will see his contract expire at the end of the season. That means he can discuss a transfer elsewhere with a foreign club in January.
Inter Milan and Juventus are also said to be interested in taking the defender on a free transfer. Officially the Serie A pair will have to wait until next summer to negotiate. Everton though can move ahead with talks in the winter window.
And per the report, the Toffeee are “planning to present an offer to the Rossoneri as early as January”.
Everton were mentioned as suitors before Benitez arrived at Goodison. But it sounds like Benitez has given recruitment guru Marcel Brands the green light to go for Romagnoli.