At the 2014 World Cup, there was a new superstar born. In the vibrant yellow of Colombia, a 23 year old attacking midfielder took the tournament by the scruff of the neck and earned a standing ovation and support from Brazil’s fans and players after he exited the tournament to the hosts. That man was James Rodriguez.
He scored the goal of the tournament and secured a mega-money move from AS Monaco to Real Madrid as the latest Galactico of the new era. The club parted ways with Angel Di Maria and forced Carlo Ancelotti, fresh off winning a Champions League trophy, to shuffle things around to fit him in. Since then though, it’s all gone a bit sideways for him.
After three years being in and out of the team, Rodriguez joined Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal with the option to buy him at the end of it. Despite winning the Bundesliga both years, it says a lot about his time there that last season he was back in the all-white strip of the Bernabeu side.
Now, with a year left on his contract and the club looking to cash in – who should take a punt?
He’s 29 years old and has had his own injury issues over the last few years but the talent is undeniable. He still has one of the greatest left foots in the game and has spoken recently about his hunger to get back to playing. As a pure No.10, his attributes stand out among the best still it’s just about him getting back into a rhythm and someone being willing to take a chance on him.
Clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United and even Everton should all be taking a good look in my opinion.
Arsenal and Everton in particular are desperate for an injection of creativity and quality in the final third. His weight of pass, touch and striking technique are all still top level and much better than the alternatives at those clubs already have.
Manchester United would be a great move for him but maybe not so much for the club. He’d likely be on fairly decent wages but at United he’d almost definitely be back-up to Bruno Fernandes in the No.10 role. With the Portuguese midfielder’s fine form since signing, there is no way he is replaced in the line-up any time soon.
Arsenal have currently got Mesut Özil just resting in their reserves so unless they get rid of him first a move for Rodriguez is unlikely but they could do much worse. He’s comfortably better than Joe Willock and would be a better option in the final third than Lacazette is. Swapping him for the French striker would allow Aubameyang to be moved into his more preferred central role.
Other options would be AC Milan in Italy. They have a habit of taking in stars who have struggled at their previous clubs and I’m sure if given the opportunity they would love to make James part of their squad. With the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic up in the air, he could become the marquee player in a side looking to get back to the top of the mountain in Italy.
Everton though in my eyes are the most viable option. Rodriguez played under Ancelotti at Madrid and Bayern, and was credited as the reason for the move to Germany. They are crying for quality in attacking positions and they have money to spend if needed. Ancelotti persisted with a 4-4-2 formation since joining the Goodison Park outfit, with Richarlison playing up front alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The wings have been occupied by Bernard, Alex Iwobi or Theo Walcott and Moise Kean has sometimes come in up front.
With James coming in, it would allow Ancelotti to revert to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, where he can move Richarlison to the left-wing, with Rodriguez behind Calvert-Lewin in attack. It adds an extra goal threat to the side while also using a more common formation to allow the middle not to be so overrun.
Rodriguez would be first choice and the best player in the team, which would recreate the scenario of the 2014 World Cup that got Rodriguez the reputation he has now.