There’s no question the transfer story that has stolen all the headlines this week, James Rodriguez and a potential blockbuster summer move to Manchester United.
Depending on which publication you read the Colombian international has either been offered to United, is on his way, or the Red Devils have no interest in the Real Madrid star whatsoever.
The only thing that does look pretty certain is that James will depart the Bernabeu this summer. Despite Zinedine Zidane’s protestations, his wave to the crowd on Sunday as he departed the field smacked of a player saying goodbye but is Manchester United the right club for him?
Where would he fit in at Old Trafford?
James has played in a wide variety of roles this season, in central midfield, right midfield, as a No.10 as well as on the left and right of a front three. However, if he switched to United it is likely he would be employed either as a No.10, in central midfield or as part of a front three.
The only thing is that with Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan already in the squad, it’s not like United are particularly short of options at No.10. Mata has enjoyed arguably his best season at Old Trafford and while Mkhitaryan has perhaps not had quite the impact that might have been expected, his history at Borussia Dortmund suggests his second season could be a different story altogether.
In central midfield, James could replace Ander Herrera alongside Paul Pogba although the Spaniard has rapidly become absolutely crucial to United and has become almost a cult figure at Old Trafford – leaving him out, like leaving out Mata or Mkhitaryan would not be well received unless James was an instant and spectacular success.
However, a place out wide on the front three could just work, particularly if United were to land their reported top target Antoine Griezmann who could feature on the left with Marcus Rashford as the central striker.
But is he want United need?
While James undoubtedly has the potential to bring goals and assists to United, the fact is the club surely has other priorities when it comes to strengthening this summer.
A top class centre-back, or even two, is required while unless Luke Shaw’s situation improves dramatically a left-back is also needed as well as an understudy to Antonio Valencia at right-back.
A world-class forward is also required due to United’s overreliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic this season and with the Swede’s future at the club currently uncertain and Wayne Rooney heading for the exit door.
A deal for Griezmann has been mooted for a long time now although it’s possible United may have to land the Europa League, and take the Champions League place that comes with it, to capture the France international.
So where does that leave James?
James shares an agent with Jose Mourinho (Jorge Mendes) so it’s little surprise to see him linked with a move to Old Trafford but could this just be a ploy by Madrid to alert potential sellers to his availability?
There should shortly be no shortage of potential destinations for the Colombian international who is still only 25 and has his peak years ahead of him.
Despite being far from a regular for Madrid this season he has still managed 11 goals and 8 assists, a fine return for an undoubtedly talented player.
United’s record in the transfer market recently is patchy at best. Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin all arrived for big money and swiftly departed after failing to impress.
A move for James would certainly not come cheap and United may be better off spending their money elsewhere this summer.
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