Do Manchester United really need James Rodriguez?
When James Rodriguez was substituted during Real Madrid’s 4-1 win at home to Sevilla, he applauded the Real supporters who in turn gave him a standing ovation. It looks increasingly likely that this was the Colombian playmaker’s final appearance at the Bernabeu.
The attacking midfielder rose to prominence at the 2014 World Cup by producing some sparkling football that lit up an otherwise drab tournament. James scored six goals in Colombia’s run to the quarter-final including that stunning goal against Uruguay that won the Fifa Puskas award just ahead of Stephanie Roche.
This drew the attention of Real Madrid who saw him as their next Galactico to play in a potentially mouthwatering attack with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. James was snapped up by Real shortly after his World Cup heroics for a fee of €80million from Monaco.
However, James has disappointed in his three seasons at the Bernabeu and has become a regular on the bench under Zinedine Zidane. It was believed that Rafa Benitez was ordered to start the playmaker by Florentino Perez and as a result, Real were overloaded in attacking players and had no holding midfielder. It was a side lacking in balance.
One attacker needed to be sacrificed so Real could function more effectively as a team and James Rodriguez was seen as the weak link. Zidane brought Casemiro in to anchor the midfield allowing Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to control games while Ronaldo and Benzema do the damage up top.
It is a formula that won the Champions League last season and has brought Zidane’s men to the final this season as well against Juventus in Cardiff.
James Rodriguez has ultimately proved to be another luxury Galactico signing by Perez akin to the likes of Kaka and David Beckham.
Various media outlets in Spain and Colombia have reported that Manchester United are favourites to sign James. Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure as manager, United have adapted a Galactico transfer policy of their own signing the likes of Angel Di Maria and Paul Pogba for astronomical sums.
For Ed Woodward, it is all about the ‘brand’ of a player and James would be a glamour signing but as with Real, he would be an expensive luxury purchase.
It would be intriguing to see how Mourinho would fit this type of player into his system and it could give the Portuguese manager a headache.
United arguably need five or six ‘necessity’ signings in the summer and James Rodriguez would not be one of them. A central defender, possibly a left back, a long term holding midfielder replacement for Michael Carrick and two goal scoring forwards are required. Add to that, a goalkeeper if De Gea finally heads to Madrid.
Wayne Rooney is widely expected to depart while Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems certain to leave also after that knee injury. Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw’s futures are cloudy at best.
If United are to have any chance to finally progress and get back to challenging for the title under Mourinho, they need a settled starting XI and a balanced squad. This summer’s transfer window could be crucial to going some way to rectifying that.
These ‘necessity’ signings the club have been linked with such as Michael Keane, Benjamin Mendy, Fabinho and Antoine Griezmann would no doubt be expensive, particularly in Griezmann’s case but if they could get the club to the next level then it would be worth it.
United already have Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard in attacking midfield positions. Is another attacking midfielder even as talented as James Rodriguez really a priority?