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Rafael Benítez has cited James Rodríguez’s injury record and Everton’s financial position as the main reasons for the Colombia international’s exit, insisting players with “passion and desire to fight for us” are more important than star names.
Rodríguez’s short Everton career ended on Wednesday when he joined Al-Rayyan in Qatar for an undisclosed fee. The 30-year-old began at Everton in outstanding form, starting 10 of the first 11 Premier League games last season, but started only 11 of the next 27 because of a calf problem. With the club constrained by the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules this summer, and Rodríguez earning about £200,000 a week, Benítez says he could not afford the gifted but inconsistent talent.
“When you have a player, with the situation we have, that can be available for 50% of the games overall in the Premier League it’s not something we can manage easily,” the Everton manager said.
“The reality now is that the player is happy because he has an option and he is pleased with that. We had to maximise our resources. We could see the injury record and the thing that we would need for the team. Hopefully we can use this move for another kind of player that will be fine for us. Hopefully he is happy, he will score goals and can play well there, but it is something that we needed to do to be sure that we could move forward.”
Benítez confirmed he would have money in January as a result of Rodríguez’s departure but wants Everton’s transfer strategy to change.
“We have an owner that wants to spend money,” he said. “After my last experience in the Premier League, not spending any money [at Newcastle], it is great to have owners with this spirit. Now it is important that when the new transfer window arrives, we are ready. We know what we need.
“We have to bring the balance between top-class players and the players that want to be here. They want to be here in the winter, when it is snowing and when it is cold, not just during the summer. Players who really have the passion and desire to fight for us. But they also need the quality to make a difference. It has to be players who will perform. Not just bringing in names.”
Liverpool Combined Authority, meanwhile, has voted in favour of a £45m investment package towards Everton’s new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock and the legacy project at Goodison Park. A £15m grant will assist work on public spaces and heritage sites at the new stadium while a £30m loan, with conditions that include employment and training opportunities for local residents, will contribute to the overall construction.