Gabriel Agbonlahor has backed Everton boss Rafael Benitez over his willingness to sever ties with a star who doesn’t fit the Spaniard’s plans.
One of the most intriguing stories this season will be if Benitez can win over the sceptical Goodison Park faithful. His appointment at Everton was met with fierce resistance owing to his close ties with bitter rivals Liverpool.
Nevertheless, Benitez is a proven winner, and results on the pitch will largely determine whether he is ultimately accepted in the blue half of Merseyside.
Benitez has and always will do things his own way. That has tended to revolve around fielding a well-drilled and structured line-up that works hard and is difficult to break down.
To aid that cause, the forwards at his disposal are expected to put a shift in defensively.
As such, it came as no surprise to learn Benitez does not fancy Colombian playmaker, James Rodriguez. The 30-year-old is understood to be free to leave should a viable suitor be found despite making headlines with his arrival from Real Madrid just last summer.
That has left Rodriguez in limbo while the window remains open, and he recently admitted he has no clue what his near future holds.
“I don’t know, I don’t know where I’m going to play,” he said on Twitch, via the Liverpool Echo. “You know that in football and in life you don’t know anything but all I know is that I’ve been training hard, preparing well, training for myself and that’s it.”
Casting aside Rodriguez for the harder working but less spectacular Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend may not set Everton fans’ pulses racing.
However, ex-Villa forward Agbonlahor believes Benitez is correct to move Rodriguez on if he cannot fit into his system.
“He’s [Rodriguez] definitely a good player, but there is always a change in style when you change managers,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider.
“Rafa likes high energy on his wings and from his number 10, you won’t get that from Rodriguez.
“What he does have is the flair, the skills and he gets assists. But some managers want other attributes. Rafa will want wingers who can get back and defend. Demarai Gray is a bit like that, Rodriguez isn’t.
“The Premier League is the quickest league in the world, it’s high energy. If Rodriguez isn’t prepared to work, Rafa won’t keep him.”
History stacked against Man City and Pep Guardiola after opening-day defeat
€30m required for Everton to usurp Tottenham
Meanwhile, Everton have been told they will have to pay €30m if they want to beat Tottenham to the signing of an Italy international.
Italian journalist Ciro Venerato has explained the situation surrounding Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne, while also name-checking Everton.
He said (via Sport Witness): “Inter have made an enquiry for both the Napoli captain [Insigne] and Lazio’s [Joaquin] Correa. [Napoli owner] De Laurentiis’ hopes are high. He values number 24 [Insigne] at €30m, despite him being out of contract in a year.
“Inter would offer less than that plus [Alexis] Sanchez, already rejected by Napoli due to the high wages. Benitez’s Everton also like Insigne. Atletico Madrid are only interested in a year, on a free.”
Tottenham are plotting a different type of transfer to their Premier League rivals. According to the Express, managing director Fabio Paratici will offer the forward a pre-contract agreement in January. That would lead to a free transfer next summer.
Insigne’s contract with Napoli expires in June 2022. That means he can speak to interested clubs from January onwards under the Bosman ruling.
READ MORE: Man Utd man snubs Everton for Brazilian switch, with Chelsea man next