James Rodríguez came close to Atlético switch before joining Everton

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James Rodriguez of Everton celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park on September 19, 2020 in Liverpool, England
Photo: Nick Potts/GETTY IMAGES

James Rodríguez has revealed that he is now with Everton because Real Madrid stopped him from joining rivals Atlético Madrid last year.

The 29-year-old was deemed as surplus to requirements by Zinedine Zidane following his return from a two year loan with Bayern Munich in 2019.

Rodríguez was linked with a number of high-profile suitors and at one stage, it looked like a deal was in place to take him across the Spanish capital to Wanda Metropolitano.

However, the Colombia international eventually made the move to Everton - a transfer that caused surprise in some quarters given the Toffees had only finished 12th in the Premier League last season.

Speaking exclusively with ESPN Colombia, Rodríguez has opened up on how the switch to Goodison Park almost didn't happen had Real let him join their city rivals Atlético.

I played very little in Madrid. Especially in my second spell.

After leaving Bayern, I had everything ready to join Atlético Madrid. I spoke with [Diego] Simeone, he said I could be a super important player and that he could play with me in his team.

I told him I was ready to move, but all this did not happen as Real Madrid did not let me leave.

The former FC Porto and AS Monaco star has impressed in his debut season with the Toffees, scoring five goals and registering four assists in 18 Premier League appearances.

But he would not have considered joining Everton without the presence of manager Carlo Ancelotti, having worked with him at Real and Bayern .

I'll say it with all sincerity that if Carlo wasn't here, I wouldn't have come. I'll say it with all my heart, he was one of the reasons for which I came.

I have started to get to know the club, how they work, how they want to work, win things, play in Europe. The fact that Carlo is here was fundamental to come here, where I am learning every day.

In these remaining [league] matches, I want to perform well. I had some physical problems for a month, but I have overcome them and it's my goal to get a European spot, hopefully in the Champions League.

Everton sit in eighth place with 46 points, level with Liverpool, and are in the mix for a either Champions League or Europa League spot.

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