The Toffees boss refuses to rule out a possible exit for the Colombian, who is yet to make an appearance this season.
James Rodrigues must “improve in a lot of things” and “show his commitment” in order to work his way back into the Everton line-up, declares Rafael Benitez.
James had a blistering start to life at Everton after arriving from Real Madrid last summer, scoring three goals and registering as many assists in his first five Premier League games.
Form and fitness issues, however, proved to be a major stumbling block for him as the campaign progressed.
The attacking midfielder, who even confessed about his intention of moving to pastures new on his Twitch channel last month, was heavily linked with an exit from Goodison Park over the summer.
His future remains uncertain, but it seems Benitez is not ready to give up on James just yet.
“I think he realised he has to improve in a lot of things. He has to focus, he has to show his commitment. That’s what he’s trying to do and that is good for us,” the Everton boss told reporters (via Goal).
“If he stays with us, it’s good news for us because he can give us something more. We don’t have any doubt about his quality, we have to be sure that we have players playing for 90 minutes with the intensity we’re looking for.
“If James is staying with us, we need to find the right games for him, and he has to show his commitment and his desire. It’s something his team-mates, fans and staff are expecting for him. If he can do that, he can make a contribution for the team.”
“He’s training with the team. Obviously we have been talking about his future and we had some clubs interested. He still is here, he’s training with the rest of his team-mates.
“Match fitness means that he has to play games, and he has to play games in a row. So, at the moment, I think that he’s a little bit behind the others.
“The team is doing well, the players understand what we want to do. He has to understand that. Then we have to try to bring the best from each player, in this case he has to adapt to the team and we will try to get the best from everyone.”