Everton’s superstar signing James Rodriguez believes that despite playing for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, his best is yet to come at Goodison.
The capture of the classy Colombia international has caused much excitement on Merseyside.
But there is also a feeling in some quarters the midfielder has taken a payday over ambition, with a dramatic step down in level.
Yet even though he is swapping the current Spanish champions for a team that finished 12th in the Premier League, James is adamant his desire is as strong as ever – and he has arrived at Everton to chase trophies.
“Is my best yet to come? Yes, i certainly hope so,” he explained with a smile.
“I think in football terms I am still young and can play at the top level for a good few years and that is what I am here to do.
“I am the sort of person that always wants to achieve more and more in my career and my life.
“It is a new league I am coming to and an important big one but I am also the sort of person that learns things every day.
“I am a curious sort of guy and I learn things on a day to day basis.”
Asked if he was still the same player who lit up the World Cup in 2014, before ultimately disappointing stints at Madrid and Bayern, he replied: “Definitely.
“I had a great time of it six or seven years ago. I was playing at a top level but I want to continue. In football you always want to continue improving.
“At Everton I am surrounded by people on and off the field who will make it possible for me to give my best. That gives you a real boost.”
It is his relationship with Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti that inspires a belief he can rediscover the form which set the world alight when Madrid paid a record £63m for him – the highest fee in their history at that point.
Ancelotti was the manager who signed him, and the Colombian had one of his best ever seasons.
But he struggled under Rafa Benitez and then Zinedine Zidane, and the midfielder admitted that the faith of his manager was a huge factor.
“As everyone knows, I played little last year and so I spoke to Carlo and I think it was good for me to be able to play again. I see it’s a club with fans with passion too.
“When I spoke to him, I said yes, it wasn’t, ‘Well, I’ll think about it and then I’ll tell you’. I said yes then, immediately. It was the right thing for me because I can play now.
“Now at Everton I am surrounded by people who will make it possible for me to play at my best – when you have people who believe in you, trust in you it makes it easier to play at your best level.”
James won La Liga with Madrid last season, though he only made eight appearances, and he is confident he can win trophies at Goodison.
“Why not? It is a club that means business. There are a lot of serious-minded people at the club at all levels who mean to achieve and that means winning trophies.
“That won’t happen overnight but I have seen real positive signs we can make progress but I think trophies are more than a possibility.”