James Rodriguez reveals why Benitez forced him out of Everton
James Rodriguez opens up on feud with Rafa Benitez that led to Everton exit.
James Rodriguez has disclosed that Rafael Benitez told him that he did not want the Colombia international at Everton because he was too old.
James joined Everton on a free transfer from Real Madrid in 2020, during Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure as manager, and played 26 times despite injury problems. After leaving Everton for Real Madrid the next summer, the Italian coach was replaced by Benitez, and the offensive midfielder’s future became a hot topic.
The ex-Monaco and Madrid player was released in September 2021 after failing to make an appearance for the Spaniard and ended up joining Qatari club Al-Rayyan.
James explained to Noticias RCN that Benitez made it clear early on that he did not want him around, saying: “When he arrived at Everton on the first day he told me: ‘Go away. You are 30 years old and I want young people, who have energy’ and I had a spectacular year with Everton, so I wasn’t going to start fighting with him.”
After returning to Madrid, it was speculated that Ancelotti may bring James with him, having previously worked with him in the Spanish capital, as well as at Bayern Munich and Everton. Despite their long relationship, the 31-year-old believes Ancelotti did not do enough to help him grow.
“Ancelotti just didn’t make me a better player. He did it with Vinicius, with Rodrygo, Fede Valverde and many more,” he said. “They were good, but now they are at an impressive level.
“I think that in football there are coaches who are not tactically geniuses, but who have team management. They know how to talk to you, they know how to reach you, they are like a father to you and you value that more than anything else. If they protect you, you are going to give everything for them.”
James is currently without a club after his contract at Olympiakos was terminated in April. He hopes to find a new club over the summer, however, saying: “In Europe the season is ending so the teams have not planned the following season. It will begin to move in June and July to see who wants a number 10. I want to stay in Europe, where I can play every three days, I feel very good physically.”
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