Out-of-favour Everton playmaker James Rodriguez has travelled to Qatar to discuss a move to the Middle East.
The PA news agency understands the Colombia international is to have talks with Al-Rayyan – managed by the former France player and coach Laurent Blanc – with the transfer window in the region still open until the end of the month.
Rodriguez was told by new manager Rafael Benitez he was not in his plans after taking over from Carlo Ancelotti, who brought in the South American having worked with him at Real Madrid.
Summer moves to Porto and Turkish side Basaksehir failed to materialise and Benitez admitted a couple of weeks ago it would be difficult to now offload the club’s highest earner, on a reported £200,000 a week.
However, the one escape route he suggested now appears to be an option after he said on September 10, “It was not easy, because he was available in the transfer window. Now that we have just the Middle East window open, it’s not easy.”
Rodriguez has yet to feature in a matchday squad for Everton after Benitez said he was behind the other players in terms of match fitness.
The Spaniard could use the depth of his squad for Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup third-round trip to Sky Bet Championship QPR, with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, full-back Seamus Coleman and striker Richarlison all facing two to three weeks on the sidelines with injuries.
Striker Salomon Rondon could start again after making his full debut for the club in Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League defeat at Aston Villa, with Benitez keen to bounce back from a first reverse of the campaign.
He told Everton TV: “We know what we were and what we have done. We are doing really well, but we knew sooner or later we would have a defeat and needed to be sure everybody understood it is part of the game.
“How you react is key for the future. The fans at the last home game [against Burnley], for example, were quite positive when the team was not playing well.
“They know this team has the right attitude and right reaction, so they were expecting it. It has to be the same for the future.
“The team has shown character and a very good attitude and I am happy with that. Now we have to take all the positives from the past games and training sessions… and try to be sure we are ready for this one.”
Off the field, chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale believes the near-10,000 responses to a fan survey will help provide vital input into the Government’s fan-led review in her role as a member of the advisory board being led by Tracey Crouch MP.
“Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Tracey Crouch and my fellow panel members as part of the government’s fan-led review of football,” said Barrett-Baxendale.
“Every one of us is keen to ensure the voices of fans right across the country are heard during what is a vital and pivotal point in the history of our game.”
Findings from Everton’s survey, instigated after the failed European Super League, showed 89 per cent of respondents said they had “concerns” about the future of the English game.
Only one in five people believe the current level of regulation is appropriate, with the majority (55 per cent) holding the view that there is too little regulation.
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