Throughout his career, James Rodriguez has always been an anomaly. The superstar forward has driven his own path, rewriting history books, winning an abundance of titles, captaining his country and setting a World Cup alight, all at the vast old age of 25. Yes, you read that right. Rodriguez, hailed as the best Colombian player in a generation, is a special type of player you just do not see around too many times.
And after his dream £65 million move to Real Madrid soured this season, the majestic James is rumoured to be available and on the move this summer. After falling down the pecking order at Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid, Rodriguez has been preparing for his departure since January. Despite being just 25 years of age, the Colombian will want to make his next move the correct one and prove himself once again as one of the World’s best players, and he isn’t short of suitors. Rumoured to have attracted both Milan clubs and Juventus in Italy, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the attacker to continue his European tour around the Mediterranean, having already spent time in Portugal, France and of course, Spain. But coupled with superb ability, James has a bullish and fierce personality, a perfect recipe for the Premier League. James would undoubtedly improve any squad he was to walk in to, but which of the rumoured Premier League sides would he fit into best?
A big summer looms for the Gunners following Arsene Wenger’s much publicised contract renewal. With a divided fan base, Wenger must act decisively in the transfer market to appease the “Wenger Out” sharks. But also to improve his side; Arsenal managed their worst Premier League campaign in recent memory, missing out on the Champions League, finishing 5th. The signing of James would certainly be a statement of intent and the forward trident of Mesut Ozil, James Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez is of quality not many in Europe could match. Rodriguez could play in the hole or just to the side of Ozil, sliding passes through for Sanchez or whipping crosses in for plan B, Olivier Giroud. Rodriguez’s quality would improve Arsenal immensely, but his place in the side would really need to be instead of Ozil rather than alongside the German. It would be too difficult for Wenger to build a team around both playmakers and the balance of the side would not really mesh. Although appealing in many ways, it can be argued Arsenal could do with spending the rumoured £60 million price tag on other targets, notably a striker and centre half.
If this summer was big for Arsenal, it is huge for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Leading the Reds back to the promised land was a necessity for Klopp, who managed it with an attacking verve and style. Klopp managed to build an attacking team full of fluidity and quality, mainly guided by Phillipe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Adding James to the fold would make Liverpool’s forward line a dynasty. James would thrive in the movement and invention of his team mates and raise the level of those around him. Liverpool have the funding, history and project to entice Rodriguez, whilst also being able to offer a Champions League place. Signing the Colombian would be a major statement of intent from Klopp. But again, the deal does not quite make sense. Liverpool have many creative players, notably Coutinho, and really need a finisher more than a creator. Klopp also desperately needs a new centre back and left back too, before looking to add to his already impressive attacking options.
- Manchester United
Arguably the most active club in the transfer market, United are expected to have a big summer ahead, again. Jose Mourinho’s side won two trophies last campaign, but ultimately flattered to deceive in the Premier League, finishing 6th. United’s problem? Goals. Enter James. Rodriguez is not only a fantastic creator, but he is also a goalscorer. Even with his vastly reduced game time, Rodriguez still managed 11 goals from midfield last season, and he was also the top goalscorer in HIS World Cup of 2014, with six. With United’s current number 10 Wayne Rooney widely expected to move on this summer after over a decade at Old Trafford, there’s a spot to fill, and Rodriguez ticks all boxes. Quick, balanced, inventive and decisive, Rodriguez has all the tools to be United’s new talismanic number 10. A front line made up of James, Rashford, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial or Lingard, supporting United’s new number nine (whoever it may be) is as enticing as any other options. Rodriguez is exactly the type of world-class pedigree player United are targeting to take them back to the Premier League summit. However, as much as United’s issues was goals, it was taking chances rather than creating them, and that is what James’ main purpose would be. Although a fantastic signing, the Colombian is not a necessity. United need to focus on capturing Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti first to finish the chances before they look to bring in someone else to create them.
Fresh from dominating the Premier League, Antonio Conte will be looking to retain the title whilst also providing a strong challenge in the Champions League. Chelsea roamed and delighted with a system built around getting the best from their attacking trio, often Pedro, Diego Costa and the league’s best player, Eden Hazard. The 3-4-3 formation relied heavily on the front three to win games, whilst the rest of the side defended resolutely and provided the platforms for Hazard and co to flourish. Despite the title winning campaign, Conte must improve his squad, a squad with a ready-made spot for the wonderful, James. The system would suit James perfectly, as Chelsea would focus highly on getting the technically brilliant James on the ball and playing in the final third with Hazard and Costa for example. The South American would be a significant upgrade on the aforementioned Pedro, despite the Spaniard’s excellent season. Rodriguez would be joining a team of players with similar quality to himself and would enjoy the responsibility of playing week in and week out in the league and in Europe.
Featured image curtesy of Bleacher Report via Google.