The name's Bond, James Rodriguez
But, but... the physicality of the Premier League?
It happens far too often and we never learn. Every time a player comes to the Premier League from overseas, usually a creative player, a large portion of the coverage around said player focuses on their capability to adapt. To adapt to the physicality of the Premier League. The intensity of the Premier League. The pace of the Premier League. This is the Barclays, the Toughest League in the World and only the best can hack it.
This sort of speculation even arises when discussing James Rodriguez, who has played and excelled in Portugal, France, Spain, Germany and at a World Cup. Apparently, coming up against the likes of Ben Davies and Kieran Gibbs would be a bridge too far for the 29-year-old.
Those doubts have been well and truly put to bed just two weeks into the season, after back to back masterclasses from the Colombian playmaker, who opened his Everton account on Saturday afternoon against West Bromwich Albion.
In a game with seven goals, in which Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a hat-trick, Slaven Bilić was sent off, Kieran Gibbs was sent off, and a free kick was scored, James still managed to steal the show. Presumably to the dismay of referee Mike Dean.
His goal came on the stroke of half-time. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, he paused for half a second, as if he was operating at a different point on the time-space continuum, before brushing the ball forward and unleashing a low, bouncing shot with minimal back-lift. A difficult goal made simple.
But arguably the highlight of James' performance came in the build up to Calvert-Lewin's second and Everton's fourth.
Playing nominally from the right, but moving wherever he felt compelled to go, picking up pockets of space, James could not be contained by the Baggies. On numerous occasions he found either Lucas Digne or Richarlison running in behind on the left, with passes reminiscent of Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba at their telepathic best.
One of these passes in particular stuck out, as he clipped a pass over West Brom's back line for Richarlison to run onto and play back across goal before Calvert-Lewin's outstretched leg ensured it crossed the line. It was a goal that perfectly encapsulated the strengths of each player involved and emphasised why they will be one of the most threatening front trios in the league.
James ➡️ Richarlison ➡️ DCL
Everton slice West Brom apart to make it 4-2 😳 pic.twitter.com/ckf8nwT3U7
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 19, 2020
So yes, James Rodriguez can adapt to the Premier League. The question is whether Premier League defences can handle him.