Former Real Madrid and Everton playmaker James Rodriguez has contrived to bite the hands that once fed him by claiming he wants Liverpool to win the Champions League final this season.
The Colombian playmaker had mixed spells at both Real and Everton, waxing and waning without ever finding the consistency needed to elevate his status. He left Madrid having played just nine La Liga matches in his final season, and endured one campaign at Goodison Park, dropping out of the limelight after a stellar start.
Now out in Qatar with Al-Rayyan, the 30-year-old has been keeping a close eye on events in Europe as Liverpool avoided a semi-final scare against Villarreal in their second leg to book a ticket in the Parisian final with his former club Real Madrid, who enjoyed late drama to eliminate Manchester City.
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Despite his affiliation to Real and the Toffees, Rodriguez has risked the wrath of backlash from both sets of supporters after revealing his desire for Liverpool to win the Champions League — but, not out of malice for his former clubs, instead because he will be rooting for one of his international teammates.
“I want Liverpool to be champion,” he said. “I have many friends in Real Madrid and it is a difficult team for this type of match, but I want Lucho (Diaz) to win.”
Rodriguez reportedly played a key role in facilitating Luis Diaz’s move to Anfield, with The Mirror claiming Liverpool’s new talismanic presence sought the advice of both the former Everton man and ex-Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao before joining Jurgen Klopp’s side.
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Since relocating to Merseyside, Diaz has proven a revelation and taken little to no time assimilating the playing philosophy of Klopp’s style, recently leading Gary Neville to describe Liverpool’s acquisition of another star as “utterly depressing” for his former club.
“Honestly, it’s utterly depressing,” Neville said.
“From the moment I saw him play in the Carabao Cup final, which was the first time I’d seen the lad live, until you see a player live and particularly when I look at him, he’s playing off the left-hand side and I look at it from a right-back’s perspective.
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“So, I have a pretty good eye about what I wouldn’t have liked and what I would like – and I thought ‘oh my God, what a player he is!’
“His tenacity, his skill, his pace, his fight, his spirit, everything! And he’s cost not a lot again. They (Liverpool) have found another one!”