It’s official, James Rodriguez has become an Everton player after yesterday evening agreeing to become the Blues latest and most high-profile signing.
Although we had been anticipating this move, it is still a little strange to think that a player of his undoubted star quality and global profile has actually become an Everton player. It’s certainly a major step change in the type of players that the club are able to attract.
This is of course basically all down to the ‘Ancelotti factor’. Obviously, as every Evertonian would acknowledge, if it weren’t for the Italian boss, Rodriguez would not be joining Everton.
In today’s articles we talk about the huge potential boost that having a player of his profile can give to the club’s financial and marketing strategy. This in fact might well have been an important additional reason why Rodriguez has been signed.
So now that he has become a Toffee, the next question is where might Rodriguez play and how might this influence the way the team is set up next season?
We’ve touched on these issues before, in terms of how the Blues team can line-with their new signings, but that was all essentially speculative. Now it becomes reality.
In looking at the player and his strengths, it obvious he is a very talented footballer with a superb left-foot and outstanding vision and technique.
Rodriguez possesses great flair and creative ability and will offer plenty of assists and goals if he is playing to his potential, as his career statistics underline.
Given these qualities it’s clear that the Colombian would be best suited to operating as a classic number 10 play-maker.
The problem is, these kind of number 10-type players are becoming rarer in modern football, especially in the Premier League, as more and more teams adopt a high-tempo pressing style. So it’s not easy to see how he can be employed successfully as an orthodox number 10 by Ancelotti.
The other obvious position for him would be playing as a left or right-sided midfielder or winger. This would also best fit with Ancelotti’s preferred 4-4-2.
However, Rodriguez lacks the pace to take on and beat defenders, which is generally so important to playing in that position and he tends to favour drifting inside rather than staying out wide.
Thinking about this, there is another alternative model. Could he though evolve into a David Beckham type, a player never blessed with pace but possessing a great delivery from out wide?
For that to work, he would need to be very disciplined and Everton would need a wide player on the other flank with real pace to offer balance and a much more direct and orthodox threat, as Ryan Giggs did at Manchester United.
If Rodriguez played on the left of a four-man midfield he could still come inside allowing Lucas Digne to overlap ,which of course he is so adept at doing.
Might that be the plan, with the Toffees bringing in a player like Allesandro Florenzi to provide that natural pace and width on the other flank and enable Ancelotti to continue playing 4-4-2?
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One other way to make it work, would be for him to line-up in a three-man midfield as part of a new-look 4-3-3 formation.
The Colombian is obviously an attacking player whose main qualities are in that area of the game.
But he is also actually quite willing to put in a stint for his team, so this might be effective as he would be lining up alongside other players who will provide the defensive cover that Rodriguez won’t.
Those players would be Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure. One of them has signed, the other, Doucoure, is hopefully very close to sealing his move to Goodison Park to complete the Blues hat-trick of midfield additions.
I’m sure Ancelotti has thought about all of this plenty of times before bringing in the Colombian superstar. So we can only trust that he will find the way to get the best out of Rodriguez, to the great benefit of Everton Football Club. Bienvenido James!