RAFAEL Benitez told a two-time Champions League winner to “go away” because he was 30 after becoming Everton manager.
The former Liverpool manager endured a difficult six-month spell in charge at Goodison Park after replacing Carlo Ancelotti in 2021.
His links to the Toffees’ cross-city rivals angered many Everton fans, with some members of the squad also falling out with Benitez.
One such player was midfielder James Rodriguez, who had previously played under Benitez at Real Madrid.
However, the Colombian failed to make an appearance for Everton after Benitez’s arrival and he was sold just two months later.
Rodriguez had been signed by Ancelotti in September 2020 and provided 15 goal contributions in 26 appearances in his first season.
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Those numbers did not help his chances of starring for Benitez, though, with the Spaniard taking exception with Rodriguez’s age.
“When he arrived at Everton on the first day, he told me, ‘Go away. You are 30 years old and I want young people, who have energy’,” Rodriguez told Noticias RCN via Sport Witness.
“I had had a spectacular year with Everton, so I wasn’t going to start fighting with him.”
It is not the first time Rodriguez, who won the Champions League twice with Real Madrid, has hit out at his former boss.
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Back in January, he revealed: “I was at Everton for a year but I would have liked it to be longer. It went well, very well, I’m leaving due to a coach, because if not, I would stay.
“The coach (Benitez) told me on the first day of pre-season, ‘you are old, you are already 30 years old, I prefer to have young people, with energy. So, find yourself a club’.
“I told a leader, after three months he will be out, I have already worked with him.
“I told him after three months look for me and after three months he (Benítez) was already out. Then came Lampard, he has won some games and has managed to save the club.”
Now 31, Rodriguez has since played for Al-Rayyan in Qatar and Olympiacos.
He is currently a free agent after being released by the Greek giants in April.
Source: Soccer - thesun.co.uk