Perhaps to the surprise of many, Everton have emerged as leaders in the 'race' to sign Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez this summer - a move that would reunite the midfielder with former boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Rodriguez broke through at the 2014 World Cup and made a big money move to Real Madrid as a result, but never quite found his feet and is now surplus to requirements under Zinedine Zidane. The Toffees look set to sign the Colombian on a permanent transfer, with the two clubs looking to find an agreement that suits both parties.
Everton's decision to needlessly sign a new number 10 every summer is similar to Pep Guardiola's sudden need to spend a load of money on full backs at Manchester City every season - although admittedly the Spaniard has had more success with that venture. Recruitment has been shoddy to say the least since Farhad Moshiri bought into the club in 2016, but not due to a lack of spending.
From Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson to Theo Walcott, Bernard and Alex Iwobi, things just haven't worked out in Merseyside. The blue side, at least.
The fact that throwing money at their problems hasn't worked so far suggests that the signing of a failed Galactico would probably be a bad idea. But with Ancelotti in the hot seat, this looks like it could actually be a shrewd signing.
Signing for the Toffees would mean that this is James' third time playing under Ancelotti. The veteran manager was the man to get the best out of him during his early years in Madrid, and then brought him to Germany with Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal - a spell that was successful until Ancelotti left the club.
While on the surface it's easy to disregard Rodriguez as just another flash in the pan hyped up by a move to Madrid, he does possess some real talent. And he's proven it, too. He managed 13 goals and 13 assists from 29 La Liga appearances during his first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, proving himself as a valuable asset in chance creation for attackers around him, while also popping up with a few himself.
And even when the chips were down and the Colombian seemed out of favour, his contributions were still there. He popped up with seven goals and six assists from 28 appearances in all competitions in his second season at Bayern, where again he was out of favour under new management.
But to get the very best out out of Rodriguez, he needs a manager who trusts him. Ancelotti has been the one to do that in the past, and that is when he's found most success, meaning he has the chance to do the same at Everton.
And as much as James actually needs Everton to revive his career, Everton need him too. Desperately.
Taking charge in December 2019, Ancelotti hasn't quite had enough time or resources to truly stamp his authority on the squad just yet, meaning they still slumped to a 12th placed finish in the 2019/20 season. He's had to make do with a squad that just isn't his, and is notoriously weak in all the wrong places.
Despite it feeling like they've signed just about every number 10 on the planet, Everton are crying out for a genuinely creative player to sit in the hole and be the man that the side can depend on when things aren't going great. Signing James - a serial trophy winner no matter how little he might have contributed - gives deeper midfield options someone to target in transition, and allows for greater cohesion between the forwards.
Currently, Ancelotti's side are stuck playing a variation of 4-4-2/4-4-1-1, deploying Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as strikers who look to counter over the top, because they have no creative support. James Rodriguez changes that, and gives them the chance to play the true 4-2-3-1 that Ancelotti has used for a number of years.
Immediately, this adds another dimension to Everton's attack and allows them to impose themselves on opposition defences more frequently. Rodriguez possesses the technical ability and awareness to create chances for Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, but also the flair to be able to beat a man and strike home himself.
At this point, Los Blancos are likely to accept a cut-price fee for their unwanted Colombian, but he'll arrive at Goodison Park with 'main event calibre' oozing from him. And while you can understand Everton fans eagerly anticipating his arrival and wanting him to be an immediate success, he needs to be given the time to adapt.
It's obvious that the 29-year-old is a confidence player and unless he's shown patience by the coaching staff and the fans, then the transfer will prove to be just another marquee signing that didn't work out.
Everton's decision to mindlessly spend big every summer has been about as successful as Vince McMahon's attempt at launching the XFL to rival the NFL, but they could finally strike gold in James Rodriguez. The Colombian needs them to take a chance on him and the club need his star power and creativity on the field; if given time, he could finally look like he's worth the £63m Real Madrid once paid for him.
Source : 90min