There has been a lot of talk in recent days that Manchester United are leading the race for James Rodriguez. Sky Sports reported that the Colombian international has been offered to the Europa League finalists and Sky Bet then went on to suspend betting on the transfer. Some cynics have suggested that the story was put out there by the former in order for them to make money through the latter, but this is a story that won’t go away and it would be a transfer that would appeal to supporters. Despite his struggles at Real Madrid, the 25-year-old remains a massive world star and he would provide more creativity to the United attack.
The Spanish giants paid £71 million for the attacker after his impressive performances in the 2014 World Cup and the report states that they will want to recoup a big chunk of that if they do sell him. A fee of £50 million is being talked about and a record of 36 goals in 109 appearances for Madrid shows that he has the ability to back up such an outlay. The reason that a deal makes sense is that he shares the same agent as Jose Mourinho in Jorge Mendes and that will put United at the front of the queue if the Colombian international was being sold.
Where would he fit in at Old Trafford?
He is a player that would provide Mourinho a number of selection options as he is capable of playing on either wing and in central midfield as part of a three. However, his best position is the number ten role. It was there that he shone for his country in the World Cup and that will be the position that he will want to be played in at Old Trafford if he made the move. The 4-2-3-1 formation hasn’t been used much by Mourinho this season, but he has had success with it in the past and he would like to have the option to field it with United.
Manchester United’s problem this season has been a lack of clinical finishing in the final third and a reliance on certain attackers. They need to add more quality to their front-line and Rodriguez would certainly provide that. At only 25, he has his best years ahead of him and he will have desire to prove himself at the highest level after an underwhelming few years with Real Madrid. It has been far from a failure, but he hasn’t been the success that he would have wanted to be at the Bernabeu, which is why he is a risk worth taking for a club like United.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is likely to be one of the central figures over the next couple of years at Old Trafford alongside Paul Pogba, while United are believed to in the market for a high-profile striker this summer. A 4-2-3-1 isn’t likely to suit them as it limits the attacking license that Pogba will have, which means a 4-3-3 is likely to be the formation they will use. Rodriguez is better suited to the right wing, but that is also where Henrikh Mkhitaryan prefers to play. Although there is no doubting his quality, signing the Colombian would be an odd move in terms of squad building.
This is a curious story and it is too early into the summer to get too excited by it. There will be a lot of agents using the media to further their clients’ prospects of a move and it is unlikely that Manchester United will have any transfer deals in place at this time. If this story develops down the line, it will be interesting to see what Mourinho’s plans are, as there is no obvious place for Rodriguez in the current United squad and he is a player that would have to play if he did move to Old Trafford. During recent seasons, the club have opted to sign big-name players without having a clear plan of how to fit them into the team. Pogba has struggled to perform at his best this season for similar reasons and if they are going to target Rodriguez, it needs to be for the right reasons rather than his reputation.
There is no need for too many player acquisitions for next year as I believe we have already had a good foundation with players we have got right now. Our need for next year is:
1. have someone to replace Michael Carrick (big task as there aren’t that many around) – very urgent
2. our central defence has not been very consistent with the like of Jones and Smalling not playing up to their normal standard and Rojo is out for at least a few months. But we do have some resources in the reserve team – not very urgent
3. Ibra will be out for a year. Rashford should be able to come in but he is not yet a finished-product. Martial has not been very consistent and he has been on the wing this season most of the time. We need to have an established centre forward – very urgent