Former Everton director of football Marcel Brands has claimed that the club was working on a deal to sign Luis Diaz in 2021 before Rafael Benitez rejected the idea.
Diaz, 26, later went on to sign for the other team on Merseyside in the January window in 2022 and almost helped them to secure a historic quadruple. James Rodriguez was supposedly set to be offered in return for Diaz, after his Everton career declined after a strong start under Carlo Ancelotti.
Brands spent three years at the club between 2018-2021 and had identified players such as Diaz, Darwin Nunez and Denzel Dumfries from the Portuguese and Dutch leagues, but no deals were made.
Benitez only lasted seven months at Everton and struggled after Ancelotti's eighth place finish the season prior and the fans did not take to the former Liverpool boss. Brands claimed that Benitez had shut down his ideas and had created 'difficulties' during their time working together.
“My time at Everton was difficult, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the football club with the changing of managers," he told Dutch media outlet AD Sportwereld. "I wanted to install my philosophy and structure into the club which would allow Everton to progress but decisions from above did not allow this.
"In the summer of 2021 we were looking to bring in Luis Diaz from Porto, I was working hard in making James Rodriguez go to Porto as part of the deal that would bring Diaz to the club however Rafa Benitez ruled against as he was unsure on the player.
"At this time the manager held significant clout with the owner. This was just one example of the difficulties I experienced as Director of Football at Everton.
"I’m not prepared to speak on the details of how my exit from Everton came about in respect to the club but I believe under Sean Dyche and Kevin Thelwell the club can get the stability it so badly needs.”