James Rodriguez came out of the 2014 World Cup as the tournament’s top scorer and the hottest property in football. Two years on, and he has disappointed both Real Madrid, and was a poor performer for Colombia in their Copa America semi-final clash with Chile. Something has gone badly wrong for the attacking midfielder, having been overtaken by Lucas Vazquez in the Real Madrid pecking order in the latter stages of the season. He is one of the three non-EU players in the squad, and the club may look to offload him to make room for another. Manchester United have been heavily linked and with the player sharing the same agent as Jose Mourinho, it is a move that makes a lot of sense.
He was sensational in his first season with Real Madrid and he looked to be the future of the club alongside Gareth Bale, with Cristiano Ronaldo becoming a lot less important to their attack. The appointment of Rafa Benitez made him a lot less important to the side, with the style switching to a more physical style. Although James Rodriguez started well under Benitez, injuries hit and he failed to get back into the side. His performances dropped when he was given chances, with the Colombian not offering much in attack. The moments of magic were no longer being produced and he stated to become heavily criticised in the press, something that can be said of almost any Real Madrid player in the last decade.
The expectation is huge at the club and once his confidence and performances dropped, Rodriguez failed to rectify them. Even under new boss Zinedine Zidane, Rodriguez continued to struggle and he was only a peripheral figure as Real Madrid captured their 11th European Cup. Benitez decided early that Rodriguez wasn’t for him, and wanted to play a style better suited to getting the best from Ronaldo and Bale. The Spaniard was dismissed for wanting to move away from the technical style of play that was so effective under Carlo Ancelotti, but maybe he was right all along. The club have had further success without Rodriguez and have looked better without the star of the 2014 World Cup. Maybe he isn’t suited to Real Madrid in their current guise.
That has been realised by the club, who have given the green light to a possible £50m switch to the Premier League, with the midfielder putting his house in Spain on the market. The Colombian international remains one of the biggest talents in world football and could be a revelation in the right system. He is excellent on the ball, with close ball control, quick feet and an ability to produce quality end product. His eye for a pass and crossing ability can lead to the Colombian getting many assists. Meanwhile his set pieces and ability to shoot from range are two further aspects to his game.
Manchester United will need to make several signings to give Jose Mourinho the best chance of leading the club to success once again. James Rodriguez will be a huge signing if they manage to complete the deal. There are doubts about whether he would suit the Mourinho system, as he isn’t the most hard-working player defensively, and would need a lot of coaching to reach the level Mourinho expects. His best position is also up for argument, as he performs so well in the number ten role, but Mourinho is more likely to play a 4-3-3 system. In such a system, Rodriguez is capable of playing on the right wing, given his excellent crossing ability, but as mentioned, he would need to become a lot better defensively, an important attribute for wingers in Mourinho’s sides.
Manchester United want to add star quality to give their new manager the tools to do the job. They already have a good front line with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is closing in on a move. They are lacking options on the right wing, and is a position they need to strengthen. Rodriguez has the potential to become one of the best players in the world, but he needs a fresh start. He is a player that would benefit at being one of the most important players in a side, something he certainly isn’t at Real Madrid. He also needs a coach that believes in him and would fix his confidence issues. Mourinho could be the perfect coach for him, but Manchester United will be wary. Angel di Maria was an expensive mistake and they can’t afford to waste money again on a Real Madrid attacker.