Colombian star James Rodriguez has revealed he only moved to Everton to be reunited with former manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Rodriguez was a marquee signing for the Toffees last summer, joining from Real Madrid on a free transfer.
Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure followed him to the club, with all three forming a new-look Everton side under Carlo Ancelotti.
While the three players have had differing levels of success this season, Rodriguez has been the standout signing.
However, despite impressing when he has featured, the Colombian has struggled with fitness. He has not featured in Everton’s last four games, with his last appearance coming against Liverpool in February.
Speaking to the media ahead of his return to action against Crystal Palace, Rodriguez admitted that he would not have joined Everton if Carlo Ancelotti was not in charge.
“I’ll say it with all sincerity that if Carlo weren’t here, I wouldn’t have come – I’ll say it with all my heart, he was one of the reasons for which I came,” Rodriguez told ESPN Colombia.
“I started to get to know the club, how they work, how they want to work, win things, play in Europe. The fact that Carlo is here was fundamental to come, where I am learning every day.”
Rodriguez also admitted that he was close to joining Atletico Madrid at one point, but Madrid blocked the move, and he eventually joined Everton.
SL View – Rodriguez set for important role in Europa League run-in
There is no player more important for Everton James Rodriguez during the run-in this season.
The Toffees are well placed in the race for European football, sitting two points behind sixth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.
The Colombian has been the spark in Everton’s attack for the majority of the season but has struggled with fitness at times.
The last time he featured for Everton was the Merseyside derby over a month ago, where he assisted Richarlison as the Toffees secured their first Anfield win since 1999.
Despite his injury problems, James has an impressive return of five goals and eight assists in 21 appearances during the current campaign.
With the playmaker fit, the Toffees must manage his game time to ensure he can remain in the team for the rest of the season.