James Rodriguez joined English Premier League club Everton on Monday in an attempt to revive a career that faltered at Real Madrid.
Signed by the Spanish giant after rising to prominence with a stunning goal for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, the attacking midfielder couldn't match those highs in Madrid.
“I’ve come here to try to improve, to get better," the 29-year-old James said. “I’ve also come here to help the team to win, to play good football — entertaining football.”
At Everton, he is being reunited with manager Carlo Ancelotti who not only signed him for Madrid but also at Bayern Munich on loan in 2017.
Everton said James joined on a two-year deal with an option for an additional season. The reported fee was 20 million pounds ($26 million).
“James, as everyone knows, is a fantastic player with a lot of quality and a lot of ability to make assists for the strikers," said Ancelotti, who left Bayern later in 2017 and was hired by Everton last year.
“He’s really excited about the project of the club and the fact we want to improve. He was really excited to sign and I didn’t spend time to convince him — he was already convinced."
James won the league title twice at Madrid and Bayern but Everton has not won the English championship since 1987. While Merseyside rival Liverpool won the Premier League last season, Everton finished 12th. The northwest English club is majority owned by Iranian-British businessman Farhad Moshiri.
“I’m a winner, I’m a real winner,” James said. “I can see the plans here, the project here is very serious. Everyone means business."
James has scored 22 times in 76 appearances for Colombia, including a World Cup-leading six at the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
That was where James was catapulted to football stardom after taking the ball on his chest and swiveling before smashing a volley in off the underside of the bar in the Maracana against Uruguay. It helped to secure Colombia’s spot in the quarterfinals — and ultimately a move to Real Madrid.
“Real Madrid wants to express its thanks and affection towards the player for all of the years he has been part of our club and wishes him all the best in this new chapter of his career,” the Spanish champion said in a statement on Monday.
Ahead of Saturday's Premier League opener against West Ham, Newcastle has signed Bournemouth duo Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser to boost the attack.
The northeast club made another signing on Monday from a club that was relegated in July with defender Jamal Lewis joining from Norwich.