Colombian is seen as an idol back home, but a trio of Madrid managers failed to warm to him while Bayern Munich proved yet another misfit. But at Goodison Park, James may have fallen on the perfect home

In the absence of supporters, there’s one shout you can hear above any other at Everton games this season. It naturally involves the player that has been performing above any other in the Everton team. “Get it to James!”

This is what Liverpool will be looking to stop this weekend. It may turn the game, but it also illustrates how the usual dynamics of this derby have been turned over. Everton are the better-performing team, with the best-performing player. James Rodriguez is the main symbol – and cause – of that form.

The big question ahead of the Merseyside derby is whether Liverpool will reassert their superiority and a sense of reality, or whether the Colombian and his side can maintain this level.

His exact level is actually one of the big questions of his career. James is probably in his most sparkling form since the 2014 World Cup, when he was one of the best players at the tournament, and suggested he was one of the “next best players in the world”.

That never quite happened, and many might say it’s fitting that he’s now at a club constantly hoping to be the next best team. The withering assessment from figures in the game is that – a bit like his manager – if James was still that good, he wouldn’t be at Everton.

It isn’t completely a question of quality, though. Continue reading

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