James Rodriguez's move to Everton invoked polarising opinions from fans and pundits alike – it seemed his signing was either destined to be a masterstroke or an expensive flop.

Many suggested that, while undoubtedly gifted, James' qualities were those of a bygone era when teams were built around a number 10 whose only real job was to create chances and score goals.

The common conception was that, in introducing a player who does little work off the ball, Everton were putting themselves at a disadvantage to every other team.

Even James himself recognises he is one of a dying breed, saying recently on the Locker Room podcast: "Everyone plays 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, hardly any kids want to be a number 10 now, because now the number 10s are being left out by the managers because they only want fast players who have one-on-one skills, can run, can play through the middle - 15 or 20 years ago, everyone wanted to be a number 10."

It's a well-known fact that James isn't much of a runner – he will never cover as much ground as someone like Kevin De Bruyne, but that's the point. He hasn't ever been that type of player – let him play to his strengths and he'll thrive.

If anyone knew how to get the best out of him, it was his former Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, and the Italian has expertly found a way to get the best out James, as we examine ahead of Saturday's Merseyside derby.

Ancelotti's James bond key to success

While James is certainly acting like the traditional number 10 for Everton, he's playing the role with his own unique spin, a way that has regularly seen both he and Juan Fernando Quintero thrive alongside each other at international level for Colombia.

Normally one would expect a player in such a role to occupy more of the central spaces, yet James operates initially from the right, allowing him to cut inside on to his left foot.

This creates a much greater area for him to do damage, as he can either dribble into the centre, play a diagonal pass out to the left, or look for a reverse ball into an advanced position on the right.

 

Not only is the pitch generally less crowded for him in this area, but were he deployed in a strictly central role, having such range of passing avenues without needing to turn would be unlikely.

This explains why Lucas Digne – who went off with a knee injury late in France's Nations League victory over Croatia on Wednesday – is the second most frequent receiver of passes (23) from James in the Everton team despite operating on the other flank, as the left-back is one of Premier League's best creators.

James knows this and regularly looks to the Frenchman on the opposite flank – together, they are Everton's greatest sources of chances this term (12 for James, eight for Digne). Similarly, the former Madrid star has picked out left-sided forward Richarlison for more chances (five) than he has anyone else.

But another key factor Ancelotti has had to consider, as highlighted already, is that James won't offer a huge amount when the Toffees aren't in possession.

Ancelotti surrounds James with hard-working, dynamic players. Allan is as tenacious as any midfielder in the league, while Abdoulaye Doucoure is a fine option as a box-to-box battler and Seamus Coleman is tireless at right-back.

 

With Doucoure and Coleman working close to James, Ancelotti's table-toppers often create overloads on the right flank, and as that attracts more defenders over to their side, that's when gaps can open up on the left for Digne.

Identifying the weakness

As much as Everton fans may not want to admit, there are certainly similarities between how they and Liverpool attack – the Reds' full-backs are key to the offensive phase of their play, while Mohamed Salah's cutting in off the left flank is a vital component in terms of chance creation.

With that in mind, it will be intriguing to see how they counteract each other's strengths, but there's no doubt stopping James will go a long way for the Reds.

The Colombian has three goals (joint fourth-highest in the league) and two assists (joint third-highest in the league) to his name, while only Salah, De Bruyne (both 14) and Son Heung-min (13) have produced more key passes than him.

Of the 12 opportunities carved out by Rodriguez, four were classed by Opta as "big chances", second to Harry Kane (six).

But he's not just involved at the end of attacking moves, as highlighted by sequence data – he has played a role in six different goal-ending sequences, a figure bettered by only four others, while James started two of them. Ollie Watkins (three) is the solitary player with a better number here.

Where Liverpool will need to pay particular attention, however, is with regards to their high line. The average distance from goal that their open-play sequences begin is 49.2 metres, meaning they play with a higher defensive line than anyone else in the division – this was exploited by Aston Villa in the 7-2 humiliation before the international break, and James will surely be mindful.

Uncharted territory… almost

James' importance to Everton is certainly comparable to Salah's influence on Liverpool – across all competitions the Toffees playmaker has created three more chances (17) than his rival, been involved in one more goal (six) and played the same number of passes into the box (31).

But where their different approaches are accentuated is their total touches in the area, with Salah at 47 and James on 10.

That's where others come in.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison may not have quite the same reputation as their Liverpool counterparts in Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, but there's no doubt the Everton pair have both started the season in exhilarating fashion.

So, although James is undoubtedly the key, Everton have several weapons capable of doing damage.

Saturday's game will be exactly 10 years on from Everton's last Premier League win over their bitter rivals. While a victory over the Reds might almost feel like uncharted territory for the Toffees, with James plotting their route, one has to think they've never had a better opportunity to sink a Liverpool side whose weaknesses have already been exposed.

It was impossible to make a case for the defence as Liverpool and Manchester United were humiliated after Everton's Colombia duo made history on another extraordinary weekend of Premier League action.

Champions Liverpool were demolished 7-2 at Aston Villa on Sunday after 10-man United had slumped to a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of rampant Tottenham.

Jurgen Klopp's side and the Red Devils are by no means the only ones needing to get a grasp of the art of defending during the international break, as the goals continue to flow far too easily in the top flight.

There was a Colombian first at Goodison Park, where surprise leaders Everton beat Brighton and Hove Albion 4-2 to maintain their perfect start.

With the help of Opta, we took a look at some of the more unusual stats to have emerged over the weekend.

 

LETHAL WATKINS STUNS FRAIL REDS

Villa's big-money signing Ollie Watkins capitalised on Liverpool's defensive frailties in a remarkable encounter.

The striker had a hat-trick inside 39 minutes at Villa Park, where the Reds endured a nightmare and were fortunate to trudge off after only conceding seven.

Watkins was the 10th player to score a Premier League hat-trick against Liverpool and the first since Dimitar Berbatov in September 2010.

His treble was the 26th to be completed in the first half of a top-tier game in England, Harry Kane the last man to achieve that feat against Stoke City in February 2017.

AT SIXES AND SEVENS

A stunning Sunday of Premier League action saw giants Liverpool and United ship at least six goals on the same day for the first time.

It was also the first time the fierce rivals had both lost by a five-goal margin on the same day.

Liverpool conceded seven times for the first time since a 7-2 capitulation at Spurs back in 1963, while it was also the fifth time reigning top-flight champions let seven in during a league game and the first since Arsenal in September 1953.

It was the third occasion in which United had conceded six in the Premier League, with Southampton thumping them 6-3 in October 1996 and Manchester City dishing out a 6-1 battering nine years ago.

SWEET DAY FOR TOFFEES' COLOMBIANS

Everton are riding on the crest of a wave under Carlo Ancelotti, and James Rodriguez has already become a big fans' favourite.

Rodriguez scored twice in an impressive victory over Brighton at Goodison Park to keep the Toffees marching on.

The former Real Madrid man also provided an assist for Yerry Mina, the first time in the competition that a goal has been scored and laid on by Colombians.

Steven Alzate's presence in the Seagulls' starting line-up made it the first time three Colombian players had started a Premier League game.

 

RODRIGO BACK IN BUSINESS 

Leeds United's record signing Rodrigo Moreno pounced on a mistake from Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson to secure a 1-1 draw in Saturday's thrilling contest at Elland Road. 

The forward scored his first goal for Leeds since his big-money move from Valencia and also struck the crossbar twice. 

Rodrigo scored during a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers in January 2011 and his strike against City came nine years and 272 days later.

Only Andy Johnson has had a bigger gap between his first two Premier League goals, at nine years and 276 days.

There is a team from Merseyside leading the way in the Premier League, but it is not the reigning champions.

Everton have started the 2020-21 season in outstanding form, making it four wins from four as they saw off Brighton and Hove Albion to move clear of neighbours Liverpool and Leicester City at the summit.

Manchester City are a little off the pace in the early stages after they were held by Leeds United, while Chelsea and Newcastle United were victorious on home turf in Saturday's action.

Now the dust has settled, relive the action with the help of some notable facts from Opta.

 

Chelsea 4-0 Crystal Palace: Chilwell impresses before Jorginho hits the spot

Talk about a game of contrasting halves. Chelsea struggled in the first 45 minutes, but everything changed when Ben Chilwell opened the scoring on his 100th Premier League appearance - his first for the Blues since arriving from Leicester.

The left-back also delivered the ball that allowed Kurt Zouma to double the advantage, making Chilwell just the third player to score and assist in a Premier League debut for Chelsea, a feat previously achieved by Deco and Alvaro Morata.

Jorginho converted twice from the spot to give the final score a lopsided look, meaning the midfielder has scored 10 of his 11 penalties in the Premier League (his solitary miss came against Liverpool last month, in case you happen to have forgotten).

Still, perhaps the outcome should have been expected. Chelsea have now won six straight in the league against Palace, who have been beaten in nine of their past 12 top-flight outings.

Everton 4-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: Inspirational James helps Toffees stay perfect

The good times continue at Goodison Park as Everton continue to impress. The previous time they won four in a row at the start of the season was back in 1969, when Carlo Ancelotti was 10 years old.

James Rodriguez is certainly rolling back the years since his arrival in England, scoring twice in this game to help down the Seagulls. He was one of three Colombians to appear in this fixture too, joined by team-mate Yerry Mina and Brighton's Steven Alzate.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin continued his scoring streak with the opener, becoming the first player to find the net in each of Everton's first four Premier League games of a season in the process.

Another error by Jordan Pickford is a concern - the England international has now made 11 that led to goals since his Everton debut in August 2107, more than any other goalkeeper in that time - but should not spoil the feel-good atmosphere on the blue half of Merseyside.

Leeds United 1-1 Manchester City: Pep makes his point as Rodrigo ends wait

The clash between stylists Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola did not disappoint, even with heavy rainfall throughout at Elland Road. Pep remains unbeaten against his fellow coach in four meetings, though he had to settle for a point as his depleted City side were pegged back.

Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock; he has scored more goals than any other Premier League player in all competitions since the start of last season (34), albeit this one was not enough to secure victory.

Rodrigo levelled, in the process becoming the first Spaniard to score for Leeds in the Premier League. It was not his first in the competition, though, as that came for Bolton nine years and 272 days earlier. Only Andy Johnson (nine years and 276 days) has had a longer gap between goals in the Premier League era.

Speaking of gaps, City have four points from three games so sit eight points behind Everton. Plenty of time left yet, of course, but the international break may come at a nice time for Guardiola and his squad, provided no players get injured while representing their countries.

Newcastle United 3-1 Burnley: Maximin effect helps give Bruce home comforts

Allan Saint-Maximin stole the show as Steve Bruce's side collected their first home league win in six attempts, while they are unbeaten in seven against Burnley at St James' Park.

Callum Wilson converted a late penalty to finish with a brace, making the striker the first Newcastle player to have four goals in his opening four Premier League games since Les Ferdinand in the 1995-96 campaign.

While Newcastle head into the break on a high, Burnley remain without a point to their name. The last time they lost three straight to start a top-flight campaign was back in 1927-28.

There was a reason to celebrate for Ashley Westwood, grabbing Burnley's goal as he became the eighth player to hit the 100-game mark in the Premier League for the club.

This, however, is a game that will be remembered for the excellence of Saint-Maximin, who both scored and assisted in a Premier League fixture for the first time.

The Premier League is in full swing after its second weekend of the 2020-21 season. How did we do without it for… about a month?

While fans remain barred from joining the players in the stadiums – which could yet be the case for much of the season – supporters are at least being treated to plenty of entertainment on TV.

The action certainly picked up where it left off from the previous week, as Saturday provided us with 21 goals across four matches, and that was followed by another 18 in Sunday's four – that's an average of nearly five per game.

Among those goals we saw James 'not Premier League proven' Rodriguez continue to impress and open his account for Everton, Wilfried Zaha down Manchester United and Son Heung-min score four, with each one set up by Harry Kane, remarkably.

An enthralling weekend brought about plenty of talking points and stats – read on for some of the quirkiest facts we could find with the help of Opta.

JAMES FINDS HIS RANGE

From the moment James arrived on Merseyside, the Colombian looked destined to provide plenty of excitement for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

His lovely 20-yard strike into the bottom-right corner during the Toffees' 5-2 win over West Brom meant 18 of his 53 goals scored in Europe's top five leagues have been from outside the penalty area. That's 34 per cent.

A fine record, though it's some way off the Premier League's deadliest from distance. Tom Huddlestone (10 of 12) has scored the greatest proportion of his top-flight goals (83.3 per cent) from outside the area among players to have reached double digits, while Frank Lampard (41) has the largest total.

 

DE GEA'S PENALTY WOES

When Zaha stepped up to a 74th-minute penalty in the hope of making it 2-0 to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, few will have been banking on David de Gea's chances of making a save – not because the Palace star is great from the spot, but because of the Spaniard's shocking record in such scenarios.

Stopping a penalty is obviously tough, that's literally the point, but, after conceding Zaha's, De Gea has saved just 7.1 per cent (two of 28), with Paul Robinson (three from 49 for 6.1 per cent) the only goalkeeper to have a worse record among those who've faced 25 or more in the Premier League.

By contrast, Simon Mignolet faced the same number as De Gea but produced six more saves, giving him a 28.6 per cent save rate.

 

AWAY DAYS IN 'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY'

Yorkshire, or 'God's own country' as it is playfully dubbed by locals, is usually renowned for being friendly and welcoming – but perhaps less so when football's involved.

The omens weren't great for Fulham ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds United, and as it happened they lost 4-3 in a belting contest, meaning they have lost eight successive Premier League matches away to Yorkshire clubs since their first – a 1-0 win at Elland Road in 2002.

Of clubs from outside the region, only Oldham Athletic (0) have a worse points-per-game record than Fulham (0.33). Newcastle United boast the best record of teams to have played more than 10 matches in Yorkshire, winning 1.76 points on average across their 29 games.

In a blow to religion fans everywhere, the Red Devils also tend to do pretty well in 'God's own country' - United have averaged 1.68 points in their 34 Yorkshire away days, losing just nine.

 

KNOWING ME, KNOWING UNITED (ZAHA)

Zaha had the decisive impact against his former club United on Saturday, with his brace effectively the difference in the 3-1 win Palace deservedly clinched.

Not only were they his first goal involvements against United in the league, he became the first player to net a brace against the Red Devils having previously represented them in the competition.

Zaha is now the joint-most prolific former United player in games against them, having drawn level with Fraizer Campbell, Keith Gillespie, Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Danny Welbeck on two goals.

JAMAL LEWSES

Although Jamal Lewis impressed for Norwich City as they were relegated last season, he became rather familiar with home Premier League defeats and that has continued since moving to Newcastle.

A 3-0 loss to visitors Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday means Lewis has lost 12 of his 16 home matches in the top-flight – that's 75 per cent, and a joint-record for players with at least 15 home games played in the Premier League.

Kevin Kyle (20 games, 15 defeats) is other player with a 75 per cent losing rate, while Tommy Miller (18 games, 13 defeats – 72.2 per cent), Bruce Dyer (21 games, 15 defeats – 71.4 per cent) and Terence Kongolo (23 games, 16 defeats – 69.6 per cent) round out the bottom five.

Carlo Ancelotti declared "the moment is good" for Everton after Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a hat-trick and James Rodriguez dazzled again in a 5-2 win over West Brom. 

The former Milan and Real Madrid boss suggested his team were slightly flattered by their winning margin, after a red card for West Brom's Kieran Gibbs helped the hosts' cause. 

But Everton have six points from six so far this season - they launched their campaign with victory at Tottenham - and the signs point to them improving significantly on last season's 12th-place finish. 

Ancelotti told BT Sport he was delighted by the partnership of Calvert-Lewin and Brazil forward Richarlison, adding that James, tucked in behind that pair, is "doing really well in this period" after his arrival from Real Madrid. 

"I have seen more ambition, more motivation, more focus, so at the moment the moment is good, but we have to pay attention because every game can be difficult," the Italian said. 

James is impressing in the early stages of his Everton career, scoring the second goal against West Brom, and Ancelotti said: "He makes football easy. He's started really well. I'm really happy for this. 

"He still has a fantastic desire to play and he loves to play with us." 

Ancelotti suggested it was prudent to "look inside the performance", saying that Everton's defensive levels did not match their attacking threat. 

Calvert-Lewin was key to the front players clicking, with the forward celebrating his first hat-trick as a professional. 

"You look at the quality we've got on the ball now," Calvert-Lewin said. "It was important we utilised it with the extra man and I think we did. 

"We created space and we penetrated when we needed to and created chances, and I was obviously happy to be in the box to tap it in." 

He revealed Ancelotti has been pushing hard on the training ground to find small improvements, and the marginal gains are paying off. 

"He's on me every day for one-touch finishes and being in the box, being in the right areas to put the ball in the back of the net," said the 23-year-old. 

"Thankfully today I was, and it's nice to know what I'm working on in training is coming off on the pitch. That's the biggest reward really." 

Carlo Ancelotti is not concerned by new signing James Rodriguez's lack of pace and physicality, joking he would have signed sprinter Usain Bolt instead if that was a priority.

The Colombia playmaker impressed for Everton in Sunday's 1-0 win over Tottenham alongside fellow debutants Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure.

James played five key passes, more than any other player on the field at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and also topped the charts with four interceptions.

Asked after the game if he was worried James needs time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, Ancelotti quipped eight-time Olympic gold medallist who dabbled with football in retirement would have been on his radar if that was the case.

"I am not worried about the physicality. If I was worried about that I would sign Usain Bolt, not James," he told Sky Sports.

"James is not the fastest player in the world but he has a lot of quality. We have to use him to show his quality. 

"He is not a winger, but he can come inside and receive the ball, he is very dangerous.

James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure have all been named in the Everton starting XI for their Premier League opener at Tottenham.

Toffees manager Carlo Ancelotti has revamped the Everton midfield in the transfer window, most notably signing James from former club Real Madrid.

Ancelotti linked up with the Colombia international at both Madrid and Bayern Munich and was influential in his arrival at Goodison Park.

He goes straight into the Everton team, alongside fellow new arrivals Allan and Doucoure, who are supported in midfield by Andre Gomes.

Jose Mourinho's Spurs have two debutants, meanwhile, with Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg each included.

Joe Hart is on the bench, joined by Steven Bergwijn, as Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min start alongside Harry Kane in attack.

Giovani Lo Celso had been battling a hamstring issue and did not make the 18-man matchday squad.

James Rodriguez hopes other "big names" will join him at Everton as they target a strong 2020-21 season.

James joined the Premier League club from Real Madrid for a reported £20million (€21.6m) earlier this month in a huge coup for Everton.

The playmaker is reunited with Carlo Ancelotti, who coached him at Madrid and Bayern Munich, as Everton look to improve on last season's 12th-place finish.

James, 29, hopes there is further growth to come at Goodison Park.

"We can't afford to be up and down in our performances. It helps obviously when you've got a great and hugely knowledgeable manager that we have," he said, via the Liverpool Echo.

"The club has proved its intent with the three signings it's made in this window and let's hope that, in the next few months, we can show that optimism.

"Let's hope over the period of seasons and the next few years, other big names will come in to join us."

James is one of four arrivals at Everton, with Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Niels Nkounkou also signed.

The Colombia international hopes Ancelotti's side can push for a top-four finish, something they last managed in 2004-05.

"There are some serious-minded people at this club who mean business about getting this club into those Champions League places and that's very important, I think," James said.

"Obviously you have to fight hard to get in those places and what you have to do is show consistency.

"In a Premier League season you're talking about a game every three or four days a lot of the season, so you have to show a high standard and display a high standard of football not just every other game, but every game.

"We need to be consistent and perform at our highest level if we want to be up there fighting for those top places."

Everton begin their Premier League season against Tottenham on Sunday.

James Rodriguez says he was attracted to Everton by their ambition to win trophies and is aiming to help end the club's long wait for silverware.

The 29-year-old completed a surprise switch to Goodison Park on Monday for a reported fee of  £20million (€22.4m) after falling out of favour at Real Madrid.

He has won an array of team and individual honours, including two Champions Leagues, and was one of the stars of the 2014 World Cup as Colombia reached the quarter-finals.

That is in stark contrast to Everton's recent exploits, the Merseyside club having gone 25 years since beating Manchester United in the FA Cup final for their last major trophy.

However, with midfield pair Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan also being brought in for a reported £42m, James insists Everton can achieve something special under Carlo Ancelotti.

"I've come here to this top club to achieve big things," he said ahead of Sunday's trip to Tottenham.  "I think the club means business.

"A club that's serious about wanting good things to happen. It's got a lot of history and is a big name. I'm here to do well and I think we're able to do that together.

"There's a lot of serious-minded people in the club at all levels who are determined to achieve, and that will mean winning trophies. 

"It won't happen overnight – it's a long-term project. But I've seen signs we can make progress. Trophies are definitely more than a possibility."

Ancelotti played a key part in James' decision to join Everton, with the pair having worked together at Madrid and Bayern Munich.

"He has influenced me a lot. It's great to be back having a chance to work with the manager once again," James said. 

"We enjoyed a great season together in 2014 and got on well as a manager and player. It's been such a good choice to reunite with the manager."

Everton endured another underwhelming campaign last time out, finishing down in 12th place despite a mini revival when Ancelotti replaced Marco Silva in December.

But the veteran Italian coach, who like James boasts a number of major honours, believes he now has a strong enough squad to compete for a place in the top six.

"The goal we want to achieve is to fight for the first positions in the Premier League, to be able to reach Europe for the next season," he said. 

"The goal is quite clear, we have this desire, this ambition, and I think we can achieve it.

"Our fans want a club and a team that is competitive in the Premier League and so I think that we can satisfy this desire this season and we're going to do our best for this.

"The players that arrived understood that we have a project with ambition for the future. 

"This is also the reason they decided and are happy to come here and be here now. They are going to work to give their best for the club."

Asked if supporters can expect any more arrivals before the window closes next month, Ancelotti said: "With these three signings we did a fantastic job. 

"The market will be closed on October 5. There are going to be some opportunities and we can look for this. But honestly, I'm satisfied with the squad in this moment."

On June 28, 2014, James Rodriguez produced a moment of brilliance to score one of the most iconic goals in World Cup history.

Having taken control of Abel Aguilar's header with his chest, James struck a magnificent left-footed volley on the turn that arrowed beyond the helpless Fernando Muslera to put Colombia 1-0 up against Uruguay.

James helped himself to a second shortly after half-time as Colombia moved into the quarter-finals, only to head out to hosts Brazil in the last eight – the then-Monaco man scoring in that 2-1 defeat was enough to win the tournament's Golden Boot with six goals.

His stellar performances for Colombia aged 22 made up the mind of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who had seen enough to be convinced James was another Galactico in the making.

Sure enough, Madrid signed James less than a month after the round-of-16 tie with Uruguay at the Maracana, with a 45,000-strong crowd in attendance at Santiago Bernabeu during his presentation.

But despite a promising start, he never truly lived up to the billing and, six years later – with two seasons spent on loan at Bayern Munich – he has left the Spanish capital.

Everton is his destination, with Carlo Ancelotti, who coached James during his first seasons at Madrid and Bayern, eager to be reunited with a player who could provide the magic the Toffees need to push for Europe, and possibly trophies, once more. 

Using Opta data for league games, we look at James' path from Galactico to Goodison Park.

 

From Colombia's poster boy to the Bernabeu bench

James hit the ground running at Madrid under Ancelotti, despite the fact he was rarely utilised in the central role in which he thrived for Colombia. He scored 13 LaLiga goals from 29 appearances – all of them starts – and provided the same number of assists, averaging a goal involvement every 88 minutes.

Following Ancelotti's departure and the appointment of Rafael Benitez ahead of the 2015-16 season, James struggled to make the same impact in his second season, starting just 17 times and making 26 total appearances. He did still score seven times and add eight assists, crafting 61 goalscoring opportunities.

Zinedine Zidane used James sparingly in 2016-17 – his first full season at the helm – with injuries not aiding the Colombian's cause. However, he achieved his best goal-per-game ratio (0.6), scoring eight times and setting up a further six goals.

James finished the season with 11 goals and 12 assists in all competitions.

A stint in the Bundesliga 

Ancelotti signed James for a second time in 2017, with the playmaker moving to Bundesliga giants Bayern on a two-year loan deal with a purchase option included.

James swiftly settled into life in Germany's top flight, making 23 Bundesliga appearances, setting up 11 goals and scoring seven himself, creating 64 chances at a league-leading average of 3.5 per 90 minutes.

Having enjoyed his time under Ancelotti and Jupp Heynckes in his first season at Bayern, James fell down the pecking order when Niko Kovac took charge, only starting 13 times in the league. He still managed seven goals and created an average of four chances per 90 minutes, but only three of those ended in assists and at the end of the campaign Bayern did not take up the purchase option.

Another bite at the apple?

James returned to Madrid, though there was interest from Napoli – then coached by Ancelotti – and Atletico Madrid. A move to either side failed to materialise, however, and he spent much of last season either on the treatment table or the bench, scoring one goal and producing one assist from eight LaLiga appearances.

Ostracised by Zidane, James had one year left on his Madrid contract so the club have cut their losses and agreed a reported £20million (€22.4m) deal with Everton for the 29-year-old.

With a manager he has performed well under in the past in charge at Goodison Park, the Premier League could just be the perfect place for James to rediscover his best form.

Everton, with Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean, have a promising strike force, yet creating clear-cut chances has been a major issue for the Toffees over the past few seasons. 

In James, they have a player who ranked top in his league for chances created per 90 minutes in every season from 2014 until 2019. If he can stay fit, Colombia's golden boy could well deliver on his 2014 promise.

James Rodriguez has left Real Madrid to join Premier League club Everton on a two-year deal with the option of a third.

Having been deemed surplus to requirements by Zinedine Zidane, James has been reunited with Carlo Ancelotti – who coached him at both Madrid and Bayern Munich – for a reported fee of £20million (€22.4m).

The 29-year-old Colombia attacking midfielder was restricted to just 14 appearances for the LaLiga champions last season, scoring one goal.

James arrives as Everton's second major signing of the transfer window, following the arrival of Allan from Napoli, which was confirmed on Saturday.

Ancelotti will hope the former Porto and Monaco playmaker rediscovers the form he showed in his first season at Madrid, as Everton aim for a drastic improvement on last season's 12th-placed finish.

"I am really, really happy to be at this great club, a club with so much history, and here with a manager who knows me really well," James told evertonfc.com. 

"I'm looking forward to achieving great things here – and winning things, which is what everyone's aim is.

"I've come here to try to improve, to get better. I've also come here to help the team to win, to play good football – entertaining football. 

"I'm convinced, with Carlo and his technical staff, we can achieve big things and one of the big reasons [I signed] was the presence of Carlo Ancelotti. 

"I have enjoyed some great times with him previously at two different clubs. That was a massive reason to come here."

After a number of stellar performances for Colombia in the 2014 World Cup – in which he won the Golden Boot with six goals, including an extraordinary strike against Uruguay – James joined Madrid in deal reportedly worth €90million.

James, who had joined Monaco from Porto the previous year, signed a six-year deal at Santiago Bernabeu and was given the number 10 shirt.

He enjoyed an impressive debut season with Los Blancos, scoring 13 goals in 29 LaLiga appearances, though he fell out of favour when Zidane took charge and signed for Bayern – then coached by Ancelotti – on a two-year loan in 2017.

James scored seven goals in his first season in the Bundesliga and matched that tally in 2018-19, though Bayern did not take up the option to sign him.

Ancelotti attempted to bring James to Napoli in 2019, but a move ultimately failed to materialise before the Italian was sacked in December.

New Everton signing Allan is one of the best defensive midfielders in world football, according to Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Everton confirmed the signing of Allan from Napoli on Saturday, with the 29-year-old having penned a three-year contract at Goodison Park.

Allan was one of the most consistent performers for the Serie A side under both Maurizio Sarri and Ancelotti, but fell out of favour under Gennaro Gattuso.

Ancelotti was keen to be reunited with the Brazil international – who has made nine appearances for his country – at Everton, and a deal reportedly worth £22.2million (€25m) plus add-ons was struck.

While deals for Real Madrid's James Rodriguez and Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure are thought to be close, Ancelotti has hailed Allan, who watched his new side beat Preston North End 2-0 in a friendly on Saturday, as one of the best players in his position.

"[I am] happy for this," Ancelotti told reporters. "I think that it was not easy to find a deal but, in the end, we were able to do it and I think he will prove to be a fantastic player for us with quality and ability.

"For sure, I have no doubt. He is a player who will show a lot of energy on the pitch. He is very good tactically, good with the ball and good without the ball. He is a fantastic signing for us.

"He is going to put strength in midfield. This is his best quality. For this reason, all the players we have with quality are going to improve for being with him. He is not just a player for himself. He is a player whose energy can make the others better.

"He's very aggressive. Defensively, he is really good. My personal opinion is that he is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. He is intelligent tactically and he has got a lot of energy. One against one, he is really strong."

Paris Saint-Germain attempted to sign Allan in 2019, when Napoli – then coached by Ancelotti – rejected a reported €60m offer, with the Ligue 1 champions instead signing Idrissa Gueye, a move which left a void in Everton's midfield last season.

"Yes, [PSG] tried to sign him but I didn't want him to leave so he stayed with me," Ancelotti, who was pictured with Colombia star James in a Liverpool hotel on Friday, added. 

"I don't know whether it was [€60m], I'm not focused about the money. There was a deal and I think that Everton are happy to have this deal! Napoli were not happy that they had to let him leave."

With a crucial meeting set to take place in the Lionel Messi saga, the Barcelona star has reportedly agreed to a deal with Manchester City.

Messi, 33, has sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants, where he has spent his entire professional career.

But just whether a move happens could hinge on an upcoming meeting.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI AGREES €700M DEAL WITH CITY

Messi has agreed to terms on a deal worth £623million (€700m) with the City Football Group (CFG), which owns Manchester City, according to the Daily Record.

The deal is reportedly five years in length, including three in Manchester and two with MLS side New York City.

A six-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi is set for a Barcelona exit after a tumultuous and trophy-less 2019-20 season.

 

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- Messi's dad, Jorge, is set to meet with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to Mundo Deportivo. It reports Jorge is drafting an exit for Messi, but Barcelona plan to tell him the superstar has a contract and they will not negotiate. It also reports Barca are preparing to offer Messi a renewal until the 2022 World Cup.

With Donny van de Beek set to arrive, are Manchester United targeting another new signing?

RB Leipzig defender and France international Dayot Upamecano is reportedly high on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's list as the United manager eyes a partner for captain Harry Maguire.

It could be a busy transfer window for United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT UPAMECANO

Manchester United are targeting RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to ESPN.

United are poised to complete the signing of star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek and the Red Devils are now eyeing further recruits.

While United continue to pursue Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, the Premier League giants have made French defender Upamecano – who signed a new deal until 2023 – a top transfer target. Upamecano has also been linked to the likes of Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

 

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Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona but his possible move to Manchester City could prove difficult. Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo claims City will abandon their bid to bring Messi to Manchester if they are forced to pay a transfer fee for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. Messi feels he is a free agent following the 2019-20 season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports United expect to receive a bid from Roma for defender Chris Smalling, who spent the 2019-20 season on loan in the Italian capital. It comes as the Red Devils eye a new centre-back.

- Sky Sport reports Milan are set to complete a one-year loan deal for Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz. The 21-year-old Spaniard has struggled for game time since arriving in 2019. Le10 Sport, meanwhile, says Milan are very interested in Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare, who has been previously linked to the likes of United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Madrid.

James Rodriguez is on the cusp of leaving Madrid for Carlo Ancelotti's Everton, according to Romano.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is in advanced talks to join former team-mate Blaise Matuidi at David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Arturo Vidal wants to terminate his Barca contract, says Sky Sport Italia. Gianluca Di Marzio also reports Inter are already in talks about signing the former Juve midfielder.

- France Football says Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has agreed personal terms with City amid interest from United and PSG.

Lionel Messi reportedly wants to negotiate his exit from Barcelona, who have other plans.

Messi, 33, has sensationally requested to leave Barca, the club where he has spent his entire professional career.

Talk around the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner continues.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS TO NEGOTIATE BARCELONA EXIT

Messi wants to negotiate his exit from Barcelona, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Mundo Deportivo claims Barca insist Messi is not for sale, while adding the Argentina international wants a meeting with president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been most strongly linked with moves for Messi.

L'Equipe reports PSG sporting director Leonardo called Messi's father, Jorge, but added City appear to be frontrunners.

It also says Juventus tried a discreet approach for Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and the Catalan giants are looking to strengthen. Sport reports they are interested in Lazio star Ciro Immobile, who equalled Gonzalo Higuain's Serie A record with 36 goals in a single season in 2019-20.

- At Real Madrid, James Rodriguez is widely expected to make an exit. The Sun reports Everton have agreed personal terms with James on a £4million-per-year deal.

- Inter could be close to an addition ahead of their 2020-21 season. Fabrizio Romano says the Nerazzurri are close to sealing a deal for Roma left-back Aleksandar Kolarov for around €2m.

- After Ben Chilwell joined Chelsea, Leicester City may have found their replacement at left-back. The Sun reports they have lined up a move for Monaco defender Fode Ballo-Toure.

- Emiliano Martinez took his chance when given his opportunity as Arsenal's number one, but it could give the Premier League side a chance to cash in. The Athletic states Arsenal are prepared to sell the goalkeeper during this transfer window.

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