Manchester United have long been linked with Real Madrid attacker James Rodriguez, who has fallen out of favour under his manager Zinedine Zidane. Rodriguez moved to the Spanish capital from Monaco in 2014 after a successful World Cup, where he finished as top scorer.
His wonder goal for Colombia against Uruguay in the round of 16, coupled with his performances in general, caught the attention of Europe’s top clubs, with Madrid eventually paying in the region of £63 million. It is the sixth most expensive transfer of all time.
Zidane, however, appears to have sanctioned the sale of Rodriquez, who made only 22 appearances in La Liga this season, if the club’s asking price is met.
According to reports from French outlet RMC Sport, who are being referenced by the Manchester Evening News and The Sun, that figure appears to be around £60 million, with both United and Inter Milan interested parties.
It would mean that Madrid would have nearly recouped the entire fee they paid to Monaco, for a player who has been used sparingly in recent times. Rodriguez was omitted from the match-day squad for Madrid’s Champions League final triumph over Juventus in Cardiff.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is a known admirer of Rodriguez, but where would he fit in at Old Trafford? The 25-year-old’s favoured position is number 10, behind an out-an-out striker. It is the spot occupied in recent years by Wayne Rooney, whose days in Manchester appear to be numbered.
Mourinho already has several candidates for the role including Paul Pogba, the most expensive footballer in history, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata. Mourinho is always on the lookout to improve the quality in his squad, but at first glance he appears to have adequate resources in attacking midfield.
There is no doubt that Rodriguez possesses a great deal of quality and is more than a handful when utilised in his favoured position. Arguably, he was the standout player at the 2014 World Cup and there was little surprise when he secured a switch to a European powerhouse later that summer.
But his career has since stalled, making fewer appearances season on season and becoming increasingly marginalised. Zidane has preferred Isco, Toni Kroos and Luca Modric to Rodriguez in central midfield, leaving the Colombian as a bit-part player.
It’s difficult to argue that Rodriquez has enhanced his reputation during his time at Madrid. It has not been the success he undoubtedly hoped it would be. Nevertheless, he would be a marquee signing for United and if Mourinho is willing to part with £60 million, then he clearly sees him becoming a mainstay of the starting XI.
Regular football would appeal to Rodriguez, who, at 25, should be approaching the prime of his career. As we’ve seen with United recently, money is no object and they are prepared to spend what it takes to land their targets, even if it is more than the going rate.