Everton signed a confidentiality agreement with Real Madrid over the financial details of the James Rodriguez transfer.

The Blues secured the Colombian on a two-year deal earlier this month, with the club having the option of extending his stay for another 12 months.

But Everton refused to reveal any information beyond the length of his contract due to a non-disclosure agreement struck with the Spanish giants.

As Rodriguez's switch to Goodison was in the process of being completed, deal insiders played down the idea that the transfer was going to cost Everton in the region of £25m, as was being claimed.

And after the 29-year-old completed his move to the Blues, at the start of the month, there emerged a growing feeling that Everton had pulled off an exceptionally good deal to bring him to the club.

Everton were refusing to comment on the increasing number of reports that they had, in fact, landed Rodriguez on a free transfer.

But those claims were backed up last night when Rodriguez's former club, Banfield, issued a statement to say they were not due on money - also known as solidarity payments - as part of sell-on clauses agreed when he was sold to Porto in 2010.

It is now believed that the Blues did pay money to Real Madrid - but not in the form of a transfer fee, instead covering part of his remaining salary at the Bernabeu.

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During the negotiations, the ECHO was told that Everton's stance on the deal was that Real would have to pay part of his remaining salary in order for the deal to work, leading to the belief a loan, with an obligation to buy, was being lined up.

But Everton cut a deal to take Rodriguez permanently with the player believed to have taken a pay-cut to help facilitate the move as well.

The ECHO had been told earlier in the summer that the Blues would look to explore the loan and free market this summer, and it appears Rodriguez may have arrived without the need to pay a transfer fee.

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