Everton now have some freedom in the January transfer window following the departure of James Rodriguez, says boss Rafael Benitez, who added that owner Farhad Moshiri is still “very keen” to spend money on the club.
James completed a move to Al-Rayyan on Thursday which means the Toffees are no longer weighed down by his reported £200,000 a week wage.
The Colombian did not make a competitive appearance under Benitez, who made it clear at the start of his tenure that he was free to leave.
Now he is finally out of the door, Benitez appeared to suggest that James’ fitness record was the main reason why he wanted to move him on and that Everton’s current injury crisis was not a good enough reason to keep him.
“It’s an easy and complicated issue. That is that the Premier League and Everton has intensity from day one until the last day. And then we have player in the situation we have being available just 50% of games overall, in the Premier League it’s not a situation we can manage easily. We have to maximise the resources that we have.
“Its a special time, difficult time because it [injuries] is a short term problem. We have two strikers that do score goals not available now but have to think about the whole season and not just 2-3 games.
“We are in the a good position long term, and I’m confident we can stay close to the top for a long time because we will improve every week. We have short-term problem so we have to have short-terms solutions but at the same time we need to look at the rest of the season and to the future of the club.
“It’s not easy to find good offers when you want. You have to manage the offers when they are there and so we couldn't find the right one before. That [Al-Rayyan] was the right one for him, he was happy with that and we have to do it. We have to maximise our resources and ensure the long-term future of the club is protected.”
Everton were relatively quiet in the transfer window over the summer as they battled to comply with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, meaning key gaps in the squad were not addressed.
Benitez says he may have some wriggle room when the winter window opens to bolster the squad, but stresses he will only bring players in for the long-term, which suggests some lessons after finally being learned in the Goodison boardroom.
“The idea was very clear before and we couldn’t do it for different reasons. We were looking for wingers and replacements in some positions. I can read the newspapers, I can watch the TV but especially the local newspapers and know what fans want. Hopefully, we can be ready for the next transfer window.
“We have been trying to manage things in a professional way. We could do it in some but not in others. The competition is good and I will try to bring in some players to try and push and overall it will be better.”
Asked whether James’ departure will allow him to spend in January, Benitez added:
“Yes I think so. I had that conversation yesterday with Mr Moshiri and we are lucky enough to have owners who want to spend money, we need to be sure we can do it in the right way.
“They are very keen to spend the money and improve the team and then we need to find players who can adapt to the Premier League and try and bring some quality to improve the team.
“We want to spend money on very good players and they have to be good for us.”