By Sports Reporter
Colombian star James Rodriguez was unveiled by Qatar football giants Al Rayyan amid much fanfare at the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium on Thursday. Rayyan fans cheered at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 venue as Rodriguez showed his sublime skills. Rodriguez, a Golden Boot winner at the 2014 World Cup, was confirmed as Al Rayyan’s new signing on Wednesday after leaving Premier League side Everton.
The 30-year-old was presented to fans in an impressive ceremony, which saw attendance of top club’s officials, former Australia and Everton star Tim Cahill.
“I am very happy to join Al Rayyan,” Rodriguez told at the press conference later, which was also attended by the club coach Laurent Blanc and President Sheikh Ali bin Saud al-Thani. “I want to thank everyone who worked for this deal. I am happy to be back to action and I will give my best to help Al Rayyan achieve their targets,” he said.
Rodriguez also thanked fans for giving him a warm welcome at the club. “My message to the fans is that I will spare no effort to achieve what they desire. I have come here to win championships,” he added.
Rodriguez was also admired by state-of-the-art Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, hoping to represent his country in the FIFA showpiece next year. “I am looking for development, and Qatari football is looking for development, so we will work together for the development. One of the reasons for my presence here is the 2022 World Cup. I hope to participate with the Colombian team at the World Cup here.”
Rodriguez has replaced Argentine Gabriel Mercado as Al Rayyan retained all its other foreign players – Franck Kom, Yohan Boli, Yacine Brahimi and Shojae Khalilzadeh.
The Lions have endured a shaky start to country’s top flight QNB Stars League as they are still craving for a win in the new season with two draws and defeat to Al Sadd at Qatar Classico on Wednesday.
Rodriguez is a big scalp for Rayyan, who are seeking their first league title since 2015-16 and are also set to play in the Amir Cup final against Al Sadd on October 22 at the Al Thumama stadium. Rodriguez will team up with Algeria’s Brahimi and Ivory Coast’s Yohan Boli to make it a formidable attack.
With the transfer window in the Middle East still open until the end of the month, Rodriguez travelled to Qatar to tie up his move at the weekend.
The 30-year-old midfielder’s future at Everton looked uncertain after they appointed manager Benitez to replace Carlo Ancelotti this season. Rodriguez joined Everton from La Liga club Real Madrid in September 2020 looking to revive his career in England. Real Madrid were given a clause that would give them 10-20% of any future transfer fee. James has generated €140.6 million in fees, only 12 players around the world managed more.
He contributed six goals and nine assists in 26 games in all competitions for Everton last season. Rodriguez scored 37 goals across two spells at Real after joining them on the back of stellar performances at the 2014 World Cup, where he won the Golden Boot.
But he struggled to live up to his 80mn euros price tag, failing to nail down a regular spot in the starting line-up at the Bernabeu. He was loaned out to Bundesliga club Bayern Munich in 2017 for two seasons. The playmaker returned for a second spell at Real in July 2019 but found himself on the fringes of the first team again, starting only five league games.
Al Rayyan coach Blanc was delighted with the new signing, hoping for change in fortunes.
“James is a great addition to Al Rayyan as he can play important role in achieving our goals. His presence will motivate all the other players and everyone is waiting for him to be in action,” the Frenchman said yesterday.
“This deal is a win and win for everyone as James presence in Qatar before the World Cup is a good thing for the tournament’s hosts also,” he added.
Rodriguez a great
addition: Sheikh Ali
Meanwhile, Al Rayyan President Sheikh Ali bin Saud al-Thani expressed his happiness on the new signing, saying Rodriguez is a great addition to Al Rayyan because of his great name in the world of football.
“The Colombian international has great experience, as he previously won the Champions League twice, the Club World Cup and the European Super, along with many local titles, so he is a great addition to Al Rayyan Club,” he said.
“One of the team’s ambitions during the current season is to win the Amir Cup final against Al Sadd on October 22 and we hope Rodriguez will play an important role,” Sheikh Ali added.
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