Would James Rodriguez fit in at Man United?
The James Rodriguez to Manchester United reports are gathering pace but before we get carried away, would he actually be a good signing for Jose Mourinho?
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James, 25, has been on the outside looking in all season at Real Madrid but when you have Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and others ahead of you, that doesn’t mean you are a bad player.
The captain of Colombia is obviously one of the finest forwards around but after moving to Real in 2014 from AS Monaco for $88.5 million, he has failed to really make his mark at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Will his style of play not only fit at Manchester United but also the Premier League?
There’s no doubt James’ combination of pace and trickery would slot in well in the PL but there should be huge question marks around whether or not United need another deep-lying attacking midfielder. James is capable of playing out on the wing or just off a striker and that means he could partner Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in a tricky attacking front three.
Rashford could lead the line in that trio, but then what does Mourinho do with Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan?
It’s likely Rooney will move on but if the Red Devils do qualify for the UEFA Champions League (reports state he will only join if United are in the UCL) then having James around plus Mata and Mkhitaryan could be troublesome. Keeping all three players happy would be almost impossible as I don’t see how you can play more than one of those players and Paul Pogba behind a front three without disrupting the balance of the team as Ander Herrera has to be the lone holding midfielder.
A deal for James does seem to be interesting United, and rightly so. His star shone bright at the 2014 World Cup and he sealed his big move to Real Madrid. Since then he’s scored 36 goals in 109 games for Real but has played a bit-part role under Zinedine Zidane.
Someone with James’ quality deserves to be the leading man at a huge club but it’s tough to see how United will do that unless they sell on Mata or Mkhitaryan, or both.
There’s no doubt the Real Madrid man would add goals but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 28 goals from this season likely to be lost next season, James will have to be handed the keys to this offense.
Mourinho may well put a lot of pressure on Rashford to lead the line if, as expected, Zlatan isn’t around, and then James would have to deliver plenty of goals and assists behind the pacey youngster in his first season in the PL. It’s possible he will form a fluid relationship with the likes of Rashford and Martial up top but it’s also unlikely United will pay anywhere near the $88.5 million Real Madrid paid for him almost three years ago, which may be a stumbling block.
James to United makes sense in a lot of ways but when you dig deeper, there will have to be plenty of departures to make his arrival worthwhile both for the player and the club.
I’m not saying it’s a bad deal. I’m just saying Mourinho’s priority should be buying a targetman unless he thinks Rashford is really ready to lead the line all season long.