James completes Everton exit by joining Al Rayyan

James Holland
James Rodriguez Everton

Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez has completed his Everton departure by joining Al Rayyan in Qatar.

The 30-year-old originally signed for Everton on a free transfer from Real Madrid in September 2020.

He followed Carlo Ancelotti to Goodison Park and enjoyed a great start to life in England.

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James notched three goals and three assists in his first five Premier League games, but could not continue that form.

Calf and groin problems meant he ended the campaign on six goals in 26 matches in all competitions.

James was told he was free to leave the Toffees in July when Rafa Benitez was appointed as manager.

A number of exit routes were considered, including former club Porto, but he has now settled on Al Rayyan.

Everton confirmed in a statement that James had left England for an undisclosed fee.

The transfer will be a boost to their finances as he was thought to be earning upwards of £140,000 a week on Merseyside.

The attacking midfielder will work under former Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc in Qatar.

He becomes one of Al Rayyan’s most notable players, alongside Dutch legend Frank De Boer.

Benitez was asked about James’ future earlier on Wednesday but went on to admit that he had ‘little information’ about a deal.

Everton were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday by Championship outfit Queens Park Rangers.

Reacting to the loss, Benitez said: “The most difficult thing to improve, normally, is in attack because it depends on the quality of players, but we are creating chances, so I am sure we will score goals.

“But in defence we have to be more aware of what is going on around and be sure we defend as a team. Be strong in defence and that will give you the possibility to win games.

“You have to take momentum from being a solid team.

“I think the way we played, the intensity of the game, the attitude of the players to come back twice…so many things we did well, in terms of what we are expecting from the team.

“It is a pity we didn’t take the chances in the final third and in the other box we conceded goals maybe we could have avoided.

“In the penalty shootout, we did everything we have to – scoring goals, young players, everyone – so, overall, I think it is a pity. We deserved to win.”