“Until August 31, yes, he’s in my plans.”
Everton midfielder James Rodriguez faces an uncertain future at the Premier League club, with manager Rafa Benitez saying on Friday that the Colombian international was part of his plans until August 31 when the transfer window closes.
Rodriguez missed Everton’s opening 3-1 home win over Southampton last weekend as he was isolating due to COVID-19 regulations, with Benitez stating that he hoped to find the “best solution” for the team and the player.
British media have linked the 30-year-old with a switch to Italian side AC Milan.
Rafa Benitez on James Rodriguez’s future at Everton.
“A lot of speculation. We have to work with the players that are here. Until August 31, yes, he’s in my plans,” Benitez told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Leeds United.
“Hopefully he’ll be fine for next week and he can carry on with training sessions, and we can see what happens until the end of the transfer window.”
Rodriguez annoyed some Everton supporters on social media after admitting during a stream that he didn’t even know who Everton were playing this weekend.
"I don't even know who Everton plays with, if you can tell me please” – James Rodriguez on his Twitch channel tonight when asked about who Everton play this weekend pic.twitter.com/KPp1oECn2F
— The Toffee Blues (@TheToffeeBlues) August 19, 2021
Benitez on Everton’s plans for Leeds match.
Meanwhile, Benitez said striker Moise Kean, another player linked with a move away from the Merseyside club, was available after missing the game against the Saints.
“Still we have some issues. It’s not just two to three days. Kean for example was coming back so we have some new faces but still some problems,” Benitez added.
Benitez also said Everton have signed 37-year-old goalkeeper Andy Lonergan on a deal until the end of the season after teenager Harry Tyrer suffered a quadriceps injury in training, with Everton’s Portuguese Joao Virginia set for a loan move.
The Spaniard expects a tough test from Leeds, who were thrashed 5-1 by Manchester United in their opener.
“Marcelo Bielsa’s teams are intense, they run a lot. We have to manage that, match their intensity – and, at the same time, we have to play well,” Benitez said.
❌ There was no sign of James Rodriguez in Everton training today.
✍️ Recent speculation suggests that the Colombian could leave Goodison Park this summer. pic.twitter.com/knppIADoYo
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 18, 2021