A fair number of Everton fans probably wondered how long it would take to get to this stage.

After the departure of Carlo Ancelotti at the beginning of the month, which proved to be a genuine shock to not just supporters but everyone involved at the club, it was only a matter of time before stories started surrounding the future of James Rodriguez.

After all, without the huge influence of the Italian, there's no chance the Colombia international would have been plying his trade at Goodison Park last season.

The 29-year-old told ESPN Colombia back in April: "I'll say it with all sincerity that if Carlo weren't here, I wouldn't have come. I'll say it with all my heart, he was one of the reasons for which I came."

So when the manager confirmed his return to Real Madrid at the start of June, it was never going to take long for the rumours around Rodriguez to crop up once again.

The latest reports suggest that the player's agent, Jorge Mendes, could be offering the playmaker out to a number of top clubs in Europe.

Atletico Madrid, Napoli and AC Milan have all been credited with an interest in the Everton man throughout these rumours - with the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich star having one year left to run on his current contract at Goodison.

In many ways, these are the stories that will always accompany a play with the amount of star power that Rodriguez possesses.

The reaction to the Blues confirming the signing of the Colombia international back in September proved just how much of a coup it was to bring that profile to the side.

As such, you have to deal with the news cycle that surrounds them.

Something is always happening with Rodriguez, someone is always interested in what Rodriguez is thinking or doing.

With the forward not involved for his side in this summer's Copa America in slightly controversial circumstances, it's perhaps natural that thoughts about his future are what will fill the void.

Over the course of 2020/21, Rodriguez proved himself to be a fantastic talent on his day for Everton - someone who could score a goal out of nothing or come up with a delightful pass no-one else in the squad could spot.

In terms of raw talent, the 29-year-old was arguably the best player at the club.

But at the same time, consistent injuries throughout the year stopped Rodriguez from really producing his best football on a consistent basis - especially as the Blues reached the business end of the campaign.

The season ended with his latest such issue, meaning he missed the final two matches of the Blues' season in anticipation of making himself available for his country this summer.

Things of course didn't work out in that manner, but missing those club matches left a sour taste for some Evertonians.

Get all the latest Everton news, transfer gossip, stadium updates and match reaction with our daily newsletter.

We'll have all the latest Everton updates as well as comment and analysis straight to your inbox every day with our FREE email newsletter.

Sign up here - it only takes a few seconds!

And so there will be a section of supporters who aren't really bothered by the latest transfer rumours surrounding the Colombian.

He was essentially a free transfer from Real Madrid less than a year ago, and if the Blues can make money on his sale then it will constitute a good bit of business.

On the other hand, many rightly believe that Rodriguez remains a vital player to this squad - which is lacking quality depth in many departments on the pitch.

To lose a player as good as Rodriguez before the beginning of 2021/22 would be another blow in what has already been a summer full of twists and turns.

The player himself hinted that he would stay at Goodison earlier this month, saying: "If I stay another year [at Everton] that's fine.

“I don't think Ancelotti is going to take me. The cycle for me with Real Madrid is closed."

Not exactly decisive, and not exactly ruling out a move to anywhere else besides Los Blancos.

Perhaps matters will hinge on whoever Everton's new manager will be. Of course they will have to have a distinct view on where the playmaker fits into their plans.

The last few years have been a struggle for consistency for the former Real Madrid man at whichever club he has been at, but the next Blues boss could be the key to unlocking his form on Merseyside.

Regardless of what supporters think of Rodriguez's influence and what the future could hold for him, there will be little surprise at transfer rumours creeping up once again.

With a player such as the 29-year-old, they're going to be a consistent factor throughout his time at Everton - even before the man who was so influential in bringing him here in the first place decided to leave.

Whether they come to fruition or not as a different matter entirely, and for that fans will just have to wait and see.