James Rodriguez joined Everton on a free transfer from Real Madrid, director of football Marcel Brands has confirmed.
The Colombia international midfielder was the marquee signing for the Toffees last summer, ending his largely unsuccessful stint at Santiago Bernabeu and moving to Goodison Park in an eye-catching deal for Carlo Ancelotti's team.
It was widely reported at the time that Everton had to fork out a significant transfer fee for James, however Brands, in delivering his annual presentation at the general meeting of the shareholders on Thursday evening, has confirmed subsequent rumours that they did not have to pay a penny to Real.
“It was one of the most difficult and weirdest transfer windows ever," Brands said. "The pandemic was clearly involved in this transfer window.
“We finished the window with a squad of 27 players - a little bit more than originally planned.
“We signed six new players. Three on a permanent transfer; Allan, Doucoure and Ben Godfrey. One on a free – James Rodriguez. One with training compensation - Niels Nkounkou - and one loan without a loan fee, Robin Olsen.”
James has been a central figure when fully fit for Everton under Ancelotti, scoring three goals in 14 games in all competitions.
He was previously one of the world's most expensive players, joining Real Madrid for £67.5 million from Monaco in 2014 following his star turn for Colombia at that summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Brands described the difficulties of conducting transfer business during the coronavirus pandemic, with Everton among the Premier League's busiest clubs last summer. They spent around £60m acquiring players, while nine men - including Morgan Schneiderlin and Kieran Dowell - departed Goodison Park.
“It was one of the most challenging transfer windows ever," he said. "The average spend of the Premier League clubs was around £63m and the overall net spend of the average Premier League club increased from just over £30m in 2019 to almost £43m in 2020. This was mainly a result of significantly reduced player sales.”
Brands said that he does not expect Everton to sign players this month, while some fringe figures will be allowed to leave in order to reduce their squad size.