Speaking to Football Insider, Kevin Phillips has claimed that Everton manager Rafael Benitez may have implicitly told suitors to ‘come and get’ James Rodriguez.
When asked about the Colombian’s future, the 61-year-old refused to ‘talk about individuals’ because it’s ‘not fair for the other players’ (via Liverpool Echo).
Patrick Boyland and Greg O’Keeffe, Everton correspondents for The Athletic, wrote in June that ‘question marks remain’ over whether Rodriguez be keen to stay in the absence of Carlo Ancelotti, who brought the 30-year-old to Goodison Park last summer after previously working with him at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but the Italian has now returned to Los Blancos.
Rodriguez was directly involved in 10 Everton goals in 21 starts last season, scoring six goals and setting up four (via WhoScored). However, the Colombian struggled with his calf, causing him to miss a total of 11 games between December and April.
Phillips interpreted Benitez’s response as an indication that Rodriguez will be free to leave and thinks that interested parties will be on high alert after the Spaniard’s subtle remark.
“It’s definitely a hint or a sign,” the former Sunderland striker told Football Insider.
“He doesn’t want to comment on it and I understand that managers don’t want to sometimes. But that’s almost a way of saying ‘He’s there, come and get him’ without actually having to say those words.
“Managers always like to make a statement and I think that might be his way of saying it judging by the way he’s answered that question.
“From my experience, that suggests that the player will be made available.”
Ability-wise, Rodriguez is surely the standout player in Everton’s squad. There were a number of matches season in which he showed his class, carving the opposition open.
It isn’t all down to talent, though. Supporters wouldn’t necessarily want the Colombian to stay put unless they were certain that he remained fully committed. Also, some fans may have grown frustrated with his persistent fitness struggles, particularly when he’s said to be banking £140,000 every week, which makes him the joint-top earner in the squad.
Phillips’ comments on Rodriguez’s future may indeed be pertinent.
In other news, this Everton starlet is growing ‘impatient’.
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